Project Arts Centre began in 1966 as a small artist-led collective. Project is committed to putting audiences at the heart of its artistic planning by supporting diverse artists to make and present work that speaks to the complexities of contemporary life in Ireland.1
In 1974, Project settled in the former Dollard Printing Works at East Essex Street.
Three years later, with the financial assistance of The Arts Council of Ireland, Project purchased the site and remained there until 1998. The venue at East Essex Street consisted of a theatre/performance space, gallery and cinema. In 1982 fire destroyed part of the premises, forcing the closure of the cinema and the loss of the foyer and of ce accommodation.
In 1991 the Board of Project instigated a programme of redevelopment to improve the venue and facilities. This culminated in the temporary closure of Project’s long-term base at East Essex Street in 1998. Artist-in-residence Maurice O’Connell’s Demolishing Project marked this event in February 1998, by inviting people to literally mark Project with a message or thought on the notion of Project and the old building.
The new Project building was developed by Temple Bar Properties Ltd. and funded under the Operational Programme for Local Urban and Rural Development of the EU, and by the Department of the Environment, Local Government and Dublin Corporation. It was designed by Shay Cleary Architects and was opened by An Taosieach Mr. Bertie Ahern T.D. on Monday 12th June 2000. The building was introduced to the public with the inaugural exhibition Somewhere Near Vada, curated by artist Jaki Irvine, who was commissioned to select artists’ works using the moving image.2
‘On Monday 12th June 2000 Project will open its new building back in Temple Bar. Project has played a major role in Dublin’s cultural life since 1966. In the past, Project has been a relatively nomadic arts centre, moving from an engineering premises in Lower Abbey Street to a disused factory in South King Street and finally, in 1974, to the former Dollard Printing Works in East Essex Street. Now, for the first time, Project will have a building custom designed to suit its needs. The opening will be a landmark occasion for many people, artists and the general public alike, in Dublin, Ireland and beyond. The new four-storey building, designed by Shay Clear Architects, is the physical embodiment of Project – a place that invites participation and risk. From the outside one sees a modern, industrial façade. Inside the spaces are flexible and fluid with three formally programmable spaces – the Cube and Gallery on the ground floor and the Space Upstairs on the first floor. But nowhere is out of bounds. The breezeblock walls and the concrete floors are functional, allowing room for artistic invention and intervention. The new building is completely unique and current but, standing as it does on the same footprint as the old, it also has a strong relationship with Project’s past. The back wall of the old theatre still stands; the ‘burnt out space’, destroyed by fire in the early 1980s, has been reclaimed; the industrial nature of the old building is reflected in the aesthetic of the new. The return of Project is the last stage in the redevelopment of Temple Bar. Project was the first artistic inhabitant of the Temple Bar area in the 1970s. It is entirely apt that Project’s new building completes Dublin’s Cultural Quarter.’ 3
First show in the new building was ‘Somewhere Near Vada’, curated by Jaki Irvine, an exhibition of international artists’ work with the moving image: This exhibition is an acknowledgement of their legacy. Nine artists’ works, on 16mm film, slide and video, will be placed throughout the whole building. The spaces, as yet undesignated by their future functions, will be lit by the ephemeral light of projectors, screens and monitors, the flickering images allowing only glimpses of the space around them. The future identity of each space – as social, administrative, artistic – will not yet be marked through other uses or experiences.
- 1977, Wed 29 Jun – Fri 15 Jul, Edinburgh Arts 1976 Exhibition, touring in Dublin and Belfast in June/July 1977. Artists include: Angelo Bozzola (ITL, Artist), Paul Neagu (ROI, Artist), Jimmy Boyle (UK, Sculpture), Nigel Rolfe (UK/ROI, Artist), James McGlade (UK, Artist), Alistair Wilson (UK/NI, Sculpture), Frank Flood (ROI, Painting), Eugene Tierney (ROI, Prints), Oliver Whelan (ROI, Painting), Bob Chaplin (UK, Artist), David Leverett (UK, Artist), Rose Finn-Kelcy (UK, Artist) and Tina Keane (UK, Multimedia), Carlo Pezzoni (ITL, Sculpture), Dalibor Martinis (HR, Video/Performance artist).
- 2004, In Repertory, Gerard Byrne, Project Arts Centre, Dublin, Ireland
- 2011, Things, Ceal Floyer Project Arts Centre, Dublin, Ireland