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New 500-seat theatre for Dublin being considered to address dearth of large performance spaces

Study for Dublin City Council finds ‘clear supportive rationale’ for new venue in city centre

A new 500-seat theatre for Dublin is being considered to address the dearth of large-scale performance spaces in the city.

Dublin City Council has identified the need for such a venue somewhere between the two canals in the city centre.

It has the working title of the City Theatre of Tomorrow and a feasibility study is being undertaken to see if it would be profitable and whether it would have an impact on existing venues.

A study carried out by Turley consultants identified a “clear supportive rationale” for such a venue, although the current Dublin City Council development plan 2022-2028 does not include provision for one.


Turley has identified three private ventures that could fill the gap that are in various stages of planning – one in College Green, another in the Guinness quarter and a third in the Docklands where developer Harry Crosbie has proposed an indoor venue capable of holding up to 2,000 people.

It has also looked at similar venues in Sunderland in England, the Royal Danish Playhouse and the Plassen Cultural Centre in Norway as possible models.

A public consultation on the theatre proposal has been undertaken.

However, council officials have been accused of not consulting with the dance music community in Dublin about the proposal.

DJ and Give Us the Night campaigner Sunil Sharpe said the council had not spoken to those involved in the dance music sector in the city.

The proposal was coming against the backdrop of the loss of many dance venues in the city yet the council had not sought the views of those involved in dance music, he believed.

“The report states that the council has been liaising with all the stakeholders. It hasn’t. Has there been any consultation with club owners or electronic artists? I don’t think so. I haven’t heard anybody talk about this.

“There was more than a bit of opportunism at play at the time to try and turn the loss of dance venues into the creation of a new theatre space,” he told Dublin City Council’s Arts, Culture, Leisure and Recreation committee on Monday.

He is one of the external members on the committee who is not a councillor but allowed to contribute to meetings.

He said a new venue ought to incorporate a club night, rather than just stage shows.

“We should be looking to create a venue that’s inclusive of all art forms, and promotes innovation. From our perspective electronic music and the visual arts for instance, have always been intrinsically linked,” he said.

“It’s really important that a new city venue creates opportunities for practitioners in these fields and brings communities closer together too. Also, the more communities you involve, the more buy-in you get from the wider public which improves the venue’s ability to be sustainable.”

Council official Sinead Connolly said the new theatre was not intended to be exclusionary and that a space that could be multifunctioning is being considered as part of the plan.

She was prepared to keep the public consultation open for a week to facilitate the views of club owners and dance music artists.

“I’d like to think we can work together for that. The city needs a central civic space for the arts and music. We are in the shaping stage where you involve all voices.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times