Artist studio space in Ireland is increasingly difficult to secure. Long-standing studios such as the New Studios and Broadstone Studios have shut their doors. Both these Dublin-based studios closed when the buildings housing them were sold on for commercial use. Re-development, high city rents and short-term leases are driving artists to seek work space outside the cities thereby excluding them from the cultural ignition of a metropolitan area.
In the North, some artists are resorting to squatting in disused buildings; Flax Art Studios in Belfast have had to move to temporary premises at Havelock House.
In Dublin, director of the Fire Station Artists Studios Helen Carey comments: ‘Artists are being driven out of the cities and out of Ireland by the current situation. Once they are gone and have put down roots elsewhere, they don’t easily return. Security of tenure as well as affordability are essential for artists.’
Unless artists own their own studios, they are vulnerable. They need to be supported with more studio spaces at prices they can afford.
The Fire Station has nine residential studio spaces for terms up to two years and nine months. They also have a large sculpture workshop with twelve work bays for short-term use. At IMMA, there are just six studios with residencies from three to six months.
Unless artists own their own studios, they are vulnerable. They need to be supported with more studio spaces at prices they can afford. In London, the organisation ACME has a charitable objective to provide low-cost space for artists. They have 700 studios across fifteen buildings. Leases are available for terms of up to just under seven years. Artists then have the option to renew.
Why can’t this same situation be emulated in Ireland? Affordable studios with long-term leases should be on offer to artists. Their contribution to our society needs to be more greatly valued.