Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, The Irish Arts Center is making news. The New York Times reports today (February 16) that the cultural organization will be building a $54 million home on 11th Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets in New York City. The construction will begin in March 2015, with a targeted opening by the end of 2016, added http://www.nytimes.com.
“It didn’t adequately reflect the importance of the institution’s contribution to New York culture,” Gabriel Byrne, the actor and center supporter, said in a telephone interview to The Times. “I thought we should work towards, not just a new building, but a new definition of what it means to be Irish — not just in this city but in this country.”
A 1916 building will be the new home
"Under the new plan, the center is taking over a 1916 building, now occupied by Cybert Tire — constructing five new stories but maintaining the brick facade. The new building will increase the center’s space sevenfold — to 35,000 square feet from 5,000; its theater will grow to 199 seats from 99; and the operating budget will double to $4 million," added the article today.
Mr. Byrne said to The Times that the center could serve as an incubator for Irish contributions to the arts. “Irish-Americans have to grow their own culture,” Mr. Byrne said. “They can’t be dependent on simply bringing in things from Ireland. The Irish-American voices are largely silent. There just isn’t a factory for that to grow,” added the actor.
"The arts center wants to be that factory, its own incarnation of the Brooklyn Academy of Music or the 92nd Street Y — with theater, live music, book events, conversations and film — and to attract audiences from all over," according to The Times report.
The project’s design architect is Ciaran O’Connor, the chief state architect for Ireland’s Office of Public Works; Davis Brody Bond is the architect of record; Jonathan Rose Companies is the project manager, adds the report.
"Mr. Byrne, who with the actor Liam Neeson has helped attract donations to the center, said the new home would be important not only as a place to generate artistic activity but also as a place to bring Irish people together and cement their ethnic identity," adds The Times article.
Staten Island arts enthusiasts, its good to know that our borough's large Irish community will be getting a new place to call home for arts, entertainment, and social networking. For more about this interesting news story visit http://www.nytimes.com and find out how you can contribute to growing Ireland's cultural identity in the New York City arts scene.