A much needed cultural boost is nearing completion in Limerick. The Belltable arts centre based on the city’s O’Connell Street is currently nearing the end of its 880,000 euro redevelopment. With capital funding from the Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture, the new departure in arts development in the mid-west is a timely boost to the region that has been dealt an overly severe hand in recent trading and social difficulties.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kevin Kiely, along with Minister of State Peter Power and other public figures were yesterday among the privileged few to receive a personal tour of the new Belltable which is designed by the renowned John Keogan who also oversaw the redevelopment of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
Cllr Kiely said: “Limerick City Council are fully behind this project and will provide all the necessary resources and we have assured the board of the Belltable of this”. The Belltable was first opened as a multi-disciplinary arts centre in 1981 and acted as one of the only arts venues to tour work outside of Ireland at this time. Having last received a refurbishment in 1991, the Belltable has continued to serve as a venue to develop and produce theatre, visual arts, dance, music and film but was restricted in recent years by capacity and technical issues.
It is particularly important taken by the Board of Directors, investors and city council that the site for the Belltable was chosen to remain on O’Connell Street and not on a green-field site outside of the immediate city centre. A drain of resources, trade and general atmosphere from the city centre of late has typified a population that has suffered more than most at the hands of economic instability. The Belltable will take pride of place on the city’s main thorough fare and provide cultural permanence and a venue the city and its people can be proud of.
The success in recent years of events such as River Fest, Limerick Theatre-Hub, sporting achievements and other cultural initiatives highlight the passion in Limerick and the mid-west to support positives in the locality and also a drive to pull the region forward.
Peter McNamara, chief executive of the Belltable, said they expect the work to be completed by November 2010. For all involved and for the many who are looking forward to this development, it can’t come quick enough.