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The Arts Council and Dublin Port Company announce a Memorandum of Understanding with the intention to repurpose buildings at the former Odlum’s Flour Mills site at Dublin Port into an Artist Campus an | The Arts Council

Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Arts Council and Eamonn O’Reilly, CEO of the Dublin Port Company yesterday (31st August) established a partnership between the Arts Council and Dublin Port Company with the intention to deliver workspace for artists practicing in all areas of the arts within the Flour Mills Master Plan Site.

Artists across Ireland struggle to find suitable workspace but research finds this problem to be most pronounced in Dublin. Dublin City Council undertook research on the provision of Artists Workspaces and infrastructure in the city in 2020 to gain a fuller understanding of the challenges facing artists. This research showed that workshop space is scarce for the 2,500 professional artists working in the city. Artists have worked collaboratively and creatively to address this challenge through ‘artist’ collectives’ but frequently find their efforts hampered by short term and insecure tenancy agreements.

To address the urgent need for more artists’ space in Dublin, the Arts Council and Dublin Port Company have been working together since early 2022 to explore options within the Flour Mills Masterplan site. Dublin Port has contracted international award-winning architects, Grafton Architects to undertake a Feasibility Study on the Flour Mill Artists’ Campus on the agreed site. The project is underpinned by the policy objectives of the Arts Council’s 10-year strategy Making Great Art Work, the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 and the Dublin Port Masterplan 2040.

The artists’ campus intends to provide artists’ studios, experimental performing and visual arts spaces, sound proofed rehearsal rooms, workshops, co-working spaces, conference and meeting spaces across 5,000 square meters in the old Odlums Flour Mills area at Dublin Port.

The Arts Council and Dublin Port Company look forward to sharing more details as this exciting project progresses and welcome the official start of a fruitful partnership. The Flour Mill Artists’ Campus has the potential to establish a significant secure and sustainable workspace dedicated to artists within Dublin city. Officials from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media have visited the Flour Mills site and recognise the potential of this to be a transformational development for artists. The Arts Council continues to engage closely with Department on the realisation of this remarkable opportunity.

Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Arts Council, commented: 

“Dublin Port has shown remarkable vision in its support for the arts in recent years and today’s announcement is a further signal of their commitment to the development of a vibrant artistic community in our city. Dublin Port’s vision for a Port City aligns perfectly with the Arts Council’s ambition to create a sustainable and exciting infrastructure for artists to make work. The dynamic promotion of artistic expression in this historic and evolving part of the city will have a profound and positive impact. I would like to particularly salute Eamonn O’Reilly for his immense support of the arts during his time as CEO.”

Prof. Kevin Rafter, Chair of the Arts Council, said: 

‘There are huge opportunities in Dublin and other areas around the country to develop new workspaces for artists to address a growing problem. The ambition of Dublin Port to work with the Arts Council is very exciting. This is the start of significant relationship to provide workspaces for artists in the old Flour Mill site in the port and will hopefully provide a model for other organisations to follow.’

Lar Joye, Port Heritage Director, said: 

“The 15 storey Odlum Flour Mill dominates the skyline of Dublin Port and the study being undertaken by Grafton Architects will create a wonderful space for artists. We are very keen for visitors and now artists to see how the busy Port operates and this project follows on from the very successful development of the Diving Bell museum in 2015, the Pumphouse heritage area in 2020 and Redbrick Sub Station which opens next year”.

Jerry Grant, Chairperson of Dublin Port Company, said: 

“We are delighted to be working with the Arts Council on this project which further highlights the importance of connecting Dublin Port to the City. Since the launch of the 2040 Masterplan in 2012 we are focused not only on improving port capacity but on furthering Port City Integration. The Board sees this project as an integral part of completing the Dublin Port Masterplan 2040”.

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