In 2017, Riverbank Arts Centre was awarded a substantial grant from the Department of Arts to make major improvements to the venue and its facilities. The arts centre was selected as one of the Department’s flagship projects and was one of only two centres in the country to receive the top award of €1m. In addition, the commitment of support from Kildare County Council, has allowed an ambitious and transformative plan for redevelopment of the arts centre.
As our plans progress for a transformative development at Riverbank Arts Centre, we are delighted to have launched the tender competition for a design team to progress to the next stage. This marks a major step on the road to achieving our vision to create a flagship cultural hub for Kildare.
To date, Riverbank Arts Centre has been in a planning phase to ensure the redevelopment leads to an outstanding and sustainable venue that is futureproofed for the people of Kildare. Within the scope of this redevelopment it is intended to improve the facilities at the venue in terms of universal accessibility, staging and seats, alongside the provision of new gallery and workshop spaces. We hope to see work commence on the building in the second half of 2020, with the project expected to be completed in the first half of 2021.
Some of the key improvements requested of the design brief will be:
A fully accessible and user-friendly venue
Participation in arts and culture by all is a key ethos of the centre. This development includes a universal adult changing facility, making the centre fully user-friendly for performers and patrons of all physical abilities.
A large workshop space for outreach and education programmes
A fully functional and flexible workshop space will enable Riverbank enhance its existing programme for primary and secondary schools, including the provision of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) education workshops and Creative Writing Workshops in partnership with Fighting Words.
A greater connection with the community
We have a vision which would bring the centre’s entrance down to ground level for ease of access with a greater visual connection with the community, and greatly enhancing the streetscape of Newbridge.
Increased stage size, improved seating and capacity
Recognising the needs of local groups, touring companies and our audience needs, these measures will address known issues.
A purpose-designed Children’s Gallery
A purpose designed gallery will allow the growth and development of a key creative space for young audiences, schools, as well as generating an additional space for local and national artists to create and exhibit.
A sustainable, energy-efficient venue
Cognisant of the need for maximising energy efficiency, sustainability will be a core consideration of the redevelopment.
‘The redevelopment of Riverbank Arts Centre is a well-considered and innovative plan which will future-proof this valuable cultural facility, providing the people of Kildare with a flagship arts and cultural venue,’ Paul Davis, Chair of the Board of Directors.
In the meantime, it will be business as usual at the arts centre up to Summer 2020. In 2018, Riverbank Arts Centre presented 322 events & workshops, over 90 performances by local companies, all of which were attended by over 22,000 people. This season is one of the most ambitious programmes to date, with 100+ events for audiences to enjoy. When the design team is in place, the next step for Riverbank is to host a series of information sessions and keep everyone updated how plans progress. With a growing national and international reputation for work to date, an enhanced infrastructure and expanded programme can only lead to exciting times ahead for the county.
‘Riverbank Arts Centre is a welcoming, friendly, accessible space to bring arts and culture to the centre of civic life and community in Newbridge and environs. We aim to germinate and generate a future audience for the arts in Newbridge and the wider county of Kildare, by providing the highest quality, accessible facility to support participation and lifelong advocates for the arts,’ Linda Geraghty, Venue Director
While the development is underway, the company intends to embark on an exciting programming and planning phase. Operating as a venue without walls, the arts centre will continue to work with artists, locals, schools, community groups, businesses and audiences to develop, present and create interesting arts and cultural encounters throughout the county. We look forward to sharing this journey with you.
Design Team Tender information available on e-Tenders