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Twelve artist workspaces in Artane Place, an industrial estate on the Kilmore Road, are expected to open before the summer, Dublin City Arts Officer Ray Yeates has said.

The studios were originally supposed to be in use by last autumn. But that was delayed after the estate owner, property firm Xestra Asset Management, had to file for changes of use.

At a meeting of the North Central Area Committee on 16 January, Yeates said permission had already been granted to make two vacant commercial units in Artane Place, formerly known as Butterly Business Park, into two large artist studios.

Then on 18 January, city planners granted Xestra permission to turn vacant offices on the first floor of the former Stardust nightclub into a further 10 studios.

The twelve workspaces are being leased by Xestra to Dublin City Council, the council has said.

A Dublin City Council press spokesperson says the firm is discounting its rent on the workspaces to the council by at least 50 percent of the commercial rent rate.

“DCC will in turn pay approximately €50,000 per year to further discount the rents to make them affordable to artists.”

Local Engagement

In early 2020, Xestra Assets Management bought Butterly Business Park, which sits on the site of the Stardust nightclub, where 48 people died on Valentine’s Day in 1981.

As part of the firm’s redevelopment of the park as Artane Place, it offered units to Dublin City Council for use as artist workspaces, according to the City Arts Office,

Included among the units was 35a, which was originally the entrance to the club.

Yeates told prospective artists at an information meeting on 24 November 2021 that Xestra was engaging with the survivors and families of the victims of the Stardust fire.

He also noted that the council, in consultation with the local community, had planned a memorial garden at the site’s entrance. Designs for the garden were unveiled in February 2021.

“It is, I think, a positive thing that artists would engage with this site,” Yeates said. “Because nobody would be more respectful of where they are working.”

Why the Wait?

During the information meeting in November 2021, Yeates said the council had negotiated with Xestra to offer the spaces at a discount.

“What they wanted was Dublin City Council to take the lease from them and sublicense the space to artists,” he said.

Based on his office’s research, artists could afford to pay at most €200 per month for a space, Yeates said. The final rent would be based on that finding, he said.

In December 2021, applications were taken for the first two available units in the park, with two local artists being selected, the City Arts Office reported.

In an open call on 12 April 2022, the City Arts Office said it was looking at leasing for another 10 units in Artane Place. It would then rent out those spaces to artists for a year, it said.

On 20 June Yeates reported to the North Central Area Committee that the first two units were fully renovated and ready for use. A total of fifteen artists had been selected, and the aim was for all of them to be moved in during early autumn.

But at a North Central Area Committee meeting on 21 November, Kelly Hickey, Assistant Arts Officer, informed councillors that a planning issue had caused unforeseen delays.

“Xestra hadn’t realised there would need to be a change of use,” Hickey said, for which they would need to apply for permission from the council.

The two studios in the larger units, numbers 70 and 75, were given a tentative new move-in date in February 2023, Hickey said.

Meanwhile the 10 studios on the first floor of the old Stardust building, accommodating 13 artists, should be open later this year, she said.

“That’s subject to a planning process and some construction work. But it is moving. It’s just moving a lot slower than we anticipated,” Hickey said.

According to Hickey, construction was also proceeding with a view to include a small “public-facing space”.

Studio Deficit

Hickey said that the studios in Artane Place fed into the council’s strategy within its North Central administrative area to identify vacant spaces for the arts.

This part of the city suffers from a lack of cultural buildings outside of libraries, shows council research.

At the meeting in November, Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney asked if any older protected structures were being considered within the North Central Area near Fairview – or in proximity to the former Richmond Road Studios, whose closure highlighted a deficit in studio spaces city-wide.

Hickey didn’t identify any potential building. But said the council’s Arts Office was constantly on the look-out, and looking also at how to use non-traditional spaces for artistic purposes.

“There can sometimes be the complexity of the public and the private, and having to work with private management companies,” Hickey said. “That is something we’re willing to do, as we are with Xestra.”

In December, Cooney said the council needs to investigate studio spaces that have leases on a more long-term basis than a year.

“Unlike the Temple Bar or Fire Station studios, the rest of these [studios] could go away overnight when some other option comes about that is more profitable.”

A council spokesperson said: “no further spaces have been identified but the search continues.”

Cooney pointed to a string of recently listed protected structures on Richmond Road and Convent Avenue in Fairview, including the 19th century Brooklawn House on the grounds of St Vincent’s Hospital, which has been vacant since 2016.

Consideration of such non-traditional buildings could present an opportunity for artists to not only be supported, but to engage with local communities.

“It could mean that there was some form of outreach too, with artists working with people in the hospital there,” Cooney said.

Michael Lanigan

Michael Lanigan is a freelance journalist who covers arts and culture for Dublin Inquirer. His work also appears in Vice, Totally Dublin, and the Business Post. You can reach him at

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