16/03/2015 Minister Humphreys announces a grant of $1.25 million for redevelopment of the Irish Arts Center in New York

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, TD, today (Monday) announced a grant of $1.25 million towards the redevelopment of the Irish Arts Center in New York, which provides a dynamic platform for Irish artists and performers. This grant is made from the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Irish Arts Centre was founded in 1972 and is primarily focused on the showcasing of Irish culture, through performance, exhibition and education, in New York.

Speaking in New York today, Minister Humphreys said:

“The Irish Arts Center is already the home of Irish culture in the United States.  This redevelopment project will provide the Center with a landmark base that those that are directly involved, and indeed and the rest of the community, Irish and Irish American, can be deeply proud of.

“Its significance in terms of the Irish community having a flagship presence in New York cannot be overstated.  The Irish Arts Center has provided a spring board to international stardom for many Irish acts and the new Center, when built, will greatly enhance its capability and capacity to do this.

“I want to put on record the Irish Government’s deep appreciation of the support also given to this project by the City of New York, including by Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Finkelpearl.  I look forward to seeing the final tranche of funding being raised by the community and work beginning on what will be an iconic symbol of Irishness in New York City” 

Speaking at the announcement today Aidan Connolly, Executive Director of the Center said:

“We are delighted that the Irish Government is working on this historic partnership with the City of New York and the Irish community to help realise the potential and aspirations of the Center. Our goal is to build a Center that reflects the contribution of Irish arts to New York, the world’s cultural capital –  expanding the canvas of opportunity for artists, and increasing access to high quality, intimate cultural experiences for audiences, while creating a social hub for the Irish community to enjoy and to be proud of.” 

Ms. Loretta Brennan Glucksman added:

This project has been vigorously supported by our entire community.  It has taken all of us working together to get it this far.   I am so proud to stand with Minister Humphreys and the Irish government as together we renew our commitment to building a new Irish Arts Center and a dynamic future for Irish arts in the United States.”

The Minister also launched a Yeats playwriting competition, in the presence of representatives of the Abbey Theatre and George Heslin, Artistic Director of Origin Theatre. This competition will form part of the wider Yeats 150 commemorative programme.

Following her visit to the Irish Arts Centre, the Minister will speak at a reception in honour of the Jerry McCabe fellowship programme, which commemorates the late Detective Garda Jerry McCabe by facilitating the regular exchange of police officers from An Garda Síochána and the New York area.

Tomorrow, the Minister will attend the St Patrick’s Day festivities and also speak at the long established American Irish Historical Association, with whom the Irish government is working closely on events around the Decade of Commemorations, in particular, at this time, the Centenary of the 1916 Rising.



Note for Editors


Emigrant Support Programme

  • The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade’s Emigrant Support Programme (ESP), provides funding to non-profit organisations and projects to support Irish communities overseas and to facilitate the development of more strategic links between Ireland and the global Irish.
  • The emphasis of the Emigrant Support Programme is primarily on supporting frontline welfare services, targeted at the most vulnerable members of our overseas communities.
  • While the support of frontline welfare services continues to be the priority of the ESP, the programme has also enabled the Government to invest in a range of community and heritage projects, which foster a greater sense of Irish identity, as well as strategic capital projects. These grants are a key part of the Government’s approach to developing strong and meaningful links with Irish communities overseas and to securing the long term future of these communities.

Irish Arts Center

  • Irish Arts Center is a huge resource to the Irish community in the wider New York area and works in conjunction with them bringing artists and events to the Aisling and Emerald Isle Irish Centers and celebrating Irish literature by giving New Yorkers the gift of free Irish literature on their annual book day.
  • In 2009 the City of New York offered a site valued at $12million in the Hell’s Kitchen area as well as $8 million in construction costs for the re-development of the Centre which would be known as the New York Irish Arts and Business Centre.  The new Centre aims to project a dynamic image of Ireland and Irish America across the US; it will facilitate extensive Irish-related cultural, business and community programmes; will showcase quality contemporary Irish theatre and art; and will also provide an invaluable resource for the Irish emigrant community in the US
  • The development of the site was identified as a priority by the then Government and an amount of €2.3 million was allocated from the 2009 Emigrant Support Programme to further assist with the construction costs.  The project’s design architect is Ciaran O’Connor Chief State Architect for Ireland’s Office of Public Works which underlines the Irish Government’s commitment to the Center. The new building will serve as a landmark facility for the promotion of Irish culture in New York.
  • The overall cost of the project is estimated at approximately $54 million.  When combined with an earlier grant to the project, Ireland has made a contribution of c8% of the total planned project costs.  The City of New York have to date, contributed $34.35m.

Yeats Playwriting Competition

  • The Consulate General of Ireland in New York has partnered with Origin Theatre Company on a new playwriting competition which is intended to inspire young writers in the US to engage with the life and work of W.B. Yeats. This competition will form part of the wider Yeats 150 commemorative programme in 2015 and is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through its Mission Cultural Initiatives budget. The Abbey Theatre in Dublin is also supporting the project.
  • The winning entry will receive a cash prize of $1500, and staged readings of the winning play will be held in New York and in Dublin, at the Abbey Theatre.

Detective Garda McCabe Fellowship Reception

  • The purpose of the McCabe Fellowship Programme is to commemorate the life and career of Detective Garda McCabe, who was killed during a bank robbery in Adare, Co. Limerick in 1996, by facilitating the regular exchange of police officers from An Garda Síochána and from the New York area.
  • The programme was established with the support of former Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy-Smith. An endowment fund has been established to fund the programme, which has been running since 1996 and has facilitated nearly 100 participants. Currently 2 Garda are in New York on the fellowship exchange.

American Irish Historical Society

  • The American Irish Historical Society has served as a centre for Irish scholarship and the study of Irish history in the United States for over a century. The Society’s library houses the most complete private collection of Irish and American-Irish history and literature in the US.  Its archives have been a valuable resource for Irish scholars and others over many years.
  • The AIHS receives support from the Emigrant Support Programme for its work in preserving the records of Irish America. In 2014 the grant received was $65,000.  The President-General is now Maureen Scannell Bateman. Notable past members of the Society include President Theodore Roosevelt and John Count McCormack.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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