Press & media

"It's going to be a fabulous venue" says new Artistic Director of Offaly Arts Centre, Offaly Live

March 27, 2023
Image credits: Offaly Express, Local News, Offaly Live.

Sean comes with years of experience under his belt. For the past 16-years he has been running the Ballina Arts Centre in Mayo, prior to that he was assistant Arts Officer with Mayo County Council, before that he managed a community arts project in Belmullet.

The wide range of skills he has accumulated over the years will no doubt be called on to meet the high expectations of the people of Tullamore who have been waiting for years for this.

''I have been in the building, it looks fabulous. They got all of the important things right, the two gallery spaces are beautiful and architecturally interlocked. They are big and proper spaces. The theatre is beautiful, it has a fine good size stage. It's a beautiful bespoke theatre space.''

One of the elements Sean is particularly impressed with, is the access area for loading scenery into the building. ''That's often a banana skin when designing theatres, sometimes it might be an afterthought. Here in Esker they got it bang on.''

Then the big question everyone has been waiting for an answer to... when will it open? ''I don't know. Soon, is all I can say. There is part of the fit-out to be completed. The way things have been logistically and internationally, things are moving slower than we would like. I don't know if it will open before Christmas. With building projects like this, there is usually a lot of work done in the last stages, before you have a workable operational arts centre. It's moving well, but as to an actual date, I can't say.''

While a date for opening has not been set, Sean knows in what direction he wants to take Esker Arts. During his 25 years working in the business, he has made numerous contacts and says he will find programming relatively easy. ''I'm not scratching my head wondering how to make contact with these people. You look for a balance, you want lots of local arts represented. Tullamore like everywhere else has a lot of artists and arts groups. This for them is the opportunity they have been waiting for for a long time, to present their work in a proper, designed, dedicated arts centre and theatre stage. Before we open the doors, I want to get to know the arts community in Tullamore, see them, talk to them and see what we can do for them and what they can do for us. A big part of my job for the next couple of years is the creation of a community, based around Esker Arts Centre,'' said Sean.

The theatre will play host to professional touring groups, ''Tullamore and Offaly has been waiting for its chance to see the best in touring theatre, music, visual art, dance, film and literary performances. The county has a good schedule of festivals during the year. But it's on those November nights, when you have read about a play in the Irish Times and you realise it's going to be in Tullamore in a few weeks time and you are a theatre fan,'' these are some of the people Sean is aiming at. Meanwhile, lovers of visual arts will get to see high quality professional art on the walls of the two galleries, with a number of exhibitions each year.

When Esker Arts finally opens its door Sean anticipates a 'soft opening' and then an official opening down the line with something big planned. However, he said ''the first day we open the doors will be a big occasion. There will be nothing soft about it really, it will be a big deal.''

Esker Arts will create 4 jobs initially. There will be other job opportunities in the future for people on community employment schemes who have an interest in the arts and want to immerse themselves and gain experience in that world

''Shared ownership,'' is the phrase Sean uses. He wants a space not just for older or wealthier people in the town. He wants to provide a hub where all artists can freely express themselves and feel comfortable. Roll on the opening!

Article Source: By Camilla Mc Loughlin, Offaly Live, published Oct 2022 1:29 PM.