Arts Council Takes The Lead on Architecture
The Arts Council today, Jan 15 2003, unveiled a ground-breaking policy on the built environment, set to transform the design quality of new buildings and the way public space is developed across Northern Ireland.
The policy, four years in the making, was launched in St Patrick’s School, Donegall Street, Belfast, in the company of Dr Aideen McGinley (Permanent Secretary, Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure), Marie-Thérèse McGivern (Director of Development, Belfast City Council) and the distinguished architects Ciaran Mackel and Dawson Stelfox. The launch was followed by a formal discussion among the more than 40 invited stakeholders of the issues raised in the policy.
Launching the policy, Arts Council Chief Executive Roisin McDonough said "For many people, their built environment does not meet even the simplest of their needs – a decent home, access to local amenities and open space, a pleasant and stimulating place to work, opportunities for leisure, fresh air and a quiet, clean and safe environment. Our ability to meet these needs largely depends on the quality of the built environments we make."
Ms McDonough took the opportunity to welcome Paul Harron, recently appointed as the Council’s Architecture & Public Art Officer, the first time such a post has existed on a par with literature, music, drama and the other artforms. She went on to announce that, from April, the Council is offering Special Initiative funding of £120,000 to kick-start smaller-scale projects such as lectures, exhibitions and publications, while the Council’s Capital fund, which has already supported buildings as radical and striking as the Marketplace Theatre in Armagh City, the Millennium Forum in Derry City, the Burnavon in Cookstown and the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn City, is still available for application.
Ms McDonough welcomed Belfast City Council’s recent Built Environment Conference, held last October, and the commitment shown by government to the values expressed in the policy. She went on "This is a beginning, certainly, but it also represents a major commitment on behalf of all the agencies and individuals involved in drafting this policy to setting the development of our buildings and public spaces on an entirely new footing."
Endorsing the document. Dr Aideen McGinley welcomed the Arts Council’s Policy as a basis for interdepartmental co-operation on issues relating to architecture and the built environment. She said "There are clearly implications for a number of government departments and I intend to convene a working group to consider how these can be taken forward".
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