Longford County Council’s plan to develop a Creative Hub Space in Longford Town could have very positive implications for the Arts Sector in the County. Confirmation in recent weeks that the Local Authority had acquired the iconic building on Main Street universally known as Providers has opened up the real possibility that a permanent home for the Arts community might be incorporated in the plans.
The notion of a prominent gallery space in the heart of Longford Town has excited the different local arts groups. The Providers building has hosted a number of temporary exhibitions in recent years and though it was built in the 60s as a furniture store, it was inadvertently perfectly appointed and laid out as an arts exhibition space. It is located in the centre of town, it has extensive wall space on three floors and it has walls of glass on two sides providing the kind of natural light a painter or curator would only dreams of having.
The Council’s overarching goal is to create a dynamic space where fledgling entrepreneurs in the digital economy can mix freely with people from the arts in an environment that stimulates creative thinking. It supports the principles of STEAM where authorities recognise the value of the Arts in fostering innovation and introducing lateral thinking across the different business disciplines.
Of course many hurdles have to be crossed before the centre is fit for purpose and much will depend on the centre management’s ability to raise the necessary funds to develop the building to the required standard.
According to Longford County Council’s Arts Officer, Mr Fergus Kennedy, Longford is one of the few counties in Ireland that doesn’t have a dedicated arts centre and exhibition space.
“This new and very welcome development will be the final block in the architecture of Longford arts infrastructure and will be an invaluable aide in increasing the professionalism of Longford arts and crafts. It will also provide a valuable opportunity to enable the creative sector to monetise its value to the local community and generate a creative revenue stream for the local economy,” he said. These sentiments were echoed by Mr Shane Crossan, Chairman of Engage Artists’ Group and Cruthú Arts Festival who said: “This new facility will, when completed, provide a sorely needed platform for the many talented artists in the Longford area. It will represent the single biggest addition to the arts infrastructure of Longford since the opening of the Backstage Theatre and Centre for the Arts almost twenty six years ago.”
In the meantime the creative community of Longford holds it breath that the remaining funding will be forthcoming to enable Longford county Council to provide the kind of creative facilities the community deserves.