The search is on for a new director of the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise with the news that Lousie Donlon will be leaving the centre at the end of March.
Ms Donlon, who has been with the Centre since it opened is due to take up a role with the new Lime Tree Theatre in Mary Immaculate College in Limerick.
Speaking about the move, Ms Donlon told the Leinster Express that although she has been involved with the Dunamaise since it opened, a fresh face will be good for the centre.
“Somebody new will have a new focus and outlook and it could be very different. There is nothing like a bit of fresh blood, it will be good for the Dunamaise,” she said..
Chairman of the board of directors, Louis Brennan told the Leinster Express that he was saddened to hear of Louise’s departure.
“The Dunamaise is a model of excellence. We started out with a blank sheet 13 years ago and Louise brought a wealth of experience with her. She achieved a phenomenal amount during her time here,” he said..
Cllr Mary Sweeney who is on the Dunamaise board of directors said that Lousie was the driving force behind the success of the Dunamaise, and was very very influential among the arts community.
“I would like to thank her for all her hard work over the years and compliment her on her success”, she said.
Longford native Louise moved to Laois in 1999 on her appointment to the Dunamaise and in her 13 years at the centre has programmed a wealth of music, theatre and arts shows, with highlights being The Chieftans, The Chieftains, Druid Theatre Company, The Gate with its Waiting for Godot tour, John O’Connor, the Abbey and many more.
“It was great to be able to programme so many different events at the Dunamaise. I have been here for such a long time, it will be strange to be setting out on a new path”, said Ms Donlon, who is looking forward to the new challenge.
“The Lime Tree Theatre is a different sort of place, the city already has two venues with the Belltable and the University Concert Hall. The programme will be diverse and will have some of the larger theatre shows,” she said.
Although the arts are in challenging times, Louise is more than ready to take on this new venture.
“Just because it’s a challenge you don’t give up. The population base is much bigger in Limerick than in Portlaoise and we just have to find some way to tap into it as best we can. Everyone is feeling the pinch but it is about finding your own niche. The challenges will still be the same, it is about getting good product and filling the box office,” she said.
Her position has not yet been filled and the board of directors are looking to recruit someone as soon as possible. It is expected that the position will be advertised within the next week.