Arts group proposes innovative way to use vacant buildings in the city

Vacant and disused buildings around Galway city should not be allowed to lie empty and idle. Instead they could be transformed into temporary art galleries and exhibition spaces. This is the view of Average Arts Initiative, an artist-led initiative which is interested in using the growing number of vacant buildings around Galway for the purpose of displaying short-term exhibition spaces.

The idea of using vacant buildings as gallery spaces has been running successfully in America, Australia, and Britain. Projects such as Swing Space in New York, Britain’s the Caretaker Project, and Australia’s Renew Newcastle Project have won acclaim for transforming run down areas into thriving community developments for the arts and the local economy.

Such a project was recently run in Dublin when property developer Garrett Kelleher leased vacant properties in Ranelagh to artists for €1.

“It’s a mutual benefit to artists and the developer, because it helps to pick up an area and the developer will benefit from that when the recession ends,” Mr Kelleher said. “This type of agreement has worked well in Britain and it’s an opportunity in Ireland for some imaginative thinking by city and county councils.” Average believes Galway is an ideal location to run such a project and that it will be of great benefit to business and artistic interest in the city.

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