Laois arts centre wants the public's help to get politicians to save the arts

Conor Ganly


Conor Ganly


Portlaoise Panto in the Dunamaise Arts Centre

The Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise to lobby Laois Offaly TDs as part of a national campaign to help arts centres which have been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Laois theatres and arts centre has joined with other centres across the country to show support for the National Arts Recovery Plan published last week by the NCFA (National Campaign for the Arts).

The Dunamaise Arts Centre says it stands together with the NCFA venues around Ireland, artists and arts workers at this difficult time to ensure the survival of our sector.

The Dunamaise Arts Centre's management, which hosts numerous events including the Portlaoise panto and Portlaoise Musical Society Shows, is asking its customers and the general public to help give the arts a voice with these 3 actions:

1.      Tell your TD how important the arts are to you.

Local TD’s in Laois Offaly include: Minister Charlie Flanagan, Sean Fleming, Brian Stanley, Barry Cowen, Carol Nolan T.D.

2.      Are you an arts fan? We need your voice to help us survive!  Add your voice to the campaign by sharing the #SAVETHEARTS video on social media.

3.      Tell your friends and family about how important the arts are to you and ask them to do points one and two above.

Michelle de Forge is Director of Dunamaise Arts Centre.

“We’re keeping seats warm and working in the wings and very much look forward to welcoming our customers back into Dunamaise to enjoy all the arts have to offer. We are working hard to make our venue safe in order to be able to do so and will take every measure to ensure the safety of our staff, artists and audiences,” she said.

The campaign says that before and during this pandemic, the arts that have kept us company, been an escape, a voice, a release, a hope.

"As the country emerges from the pandemic and businesses attempt to return to trading or pivot to alternative offerings in a physically limited new world, the arts and culture sector will be the very last to recover in any meaningful way. 

"Venues, artists, arts workers and arts organisations need the support of the public now. We must keep the arts on the national agenda while we move towards Government formation and Programme for Government," said a statement.

Dunamaise Arts Centre is currently closed but has a virtual programme of events online and is supporting two artist workshops for Cruinniú na nÓg on Saturday 13 June. Full details of all events can be seen on .

Theatres and Arts Centres across the country have come together to show support for the National Arts Recovery Plan published last week by the NCFA and the #savethearts campaign. We stand together with the NCFA and our artists and arts workers at this difficult time to ensure the survival of our sector.

How we will address the severe challenges posed by social distancing and huge losses in revenue will require close collaboration with our artists, arts workers and audiences as well as The Arts Council, Local Authorities and Government partners. Venues are more than walls – we are teams of professional, experienced people dedicated to supporting artists and audiences and we are working hard right now to create plans for a reimagined future in which we can support our artists to the best of our ability and enrich our communities creatively.

With investment from the Government and Arts Council, as outlined in the National Arts Recovery Plan:

 We can put in place the vast measures required to reopen our theatres and arts centres as safe
workplaces for staff teams, artists and arts workers and ultimately as safe places to visit for our
 We can develop and deliver alternative programmes to continue our engagement with artists, arts
workers and audiences.
 We can introduce opportunities to work with artists in new ways, making our spaces available for
creativity and development.

The Covid-19 crisis has affected everyone. The financial impact is devastating. It is crucial that we protect our arts sector and ensure the years of investment, experience, and artist support infrastructure are not lost. Theatres and Arts Centres are a key infrastructure for communities and artists; we are an important touchstone for arts engagement and provide vital pathways connecting artists and audiences.

We value all our sectoral partners and will continue to prioritise artists and arts workers as we navigate through this difficult and uncertain time together. The National Arts Recovery Plan outlines comprehensively the challenges facing our sector and presents a plan for the survival and recovery of the sector to ensure that the Arts & Culture Sector can contribute to Ireland’s economic and societal recovery and can continue to enrich all of our lives.

This document has been devised, reviewed and approved by:
Backstage Theatre, Longford Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo
Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny
Town Hall Theatre, Galway Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise
Siamsa Tíre, Tralee glór, Ennis
Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire Roscommon Arts Centre
Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda
Mullingar Arts Centre Project Arts Centre
Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray Axis, Ballymun
Draíocht, Blanchardstown Everyman Theatre, Cork
Theatre Royal, Waterford An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk
Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny
The Source Arts Centre, Thurles Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh
Belltable, Limerick Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford
The Glens Centre, Manorhamilton Ballina Arts Centre
Wexford Arts Centre Solstice Arts Centre, Navan
Birr Arts Centre VISUAL, Carlow