The Irish Times picks up on The Model’s redevelopment progress …

As we plan and prepare for a number of our offsite programmes, check out what the Irish Times(page two if you have yesterdays hard copy!) wrote about progress on our redevelopment.
Article appeared in The Irish Times 14th April 2009 written by Marese McDonagh

WORK HAS started on redevelopment of a Sligo arts centre which has had its price tag reduced by €1 million thanks to the slump in the construction sector.

The extended Model Arts and Niland Gallery, which was to have been at the centre of a planned cultural quarter in Sligo, is now expected to be completed at the end of the year at a cost of €5 million, down from the original estimate of €6 million.

Sligo County Council says it has not abandoned plans for a €14 million two-storey museum beside the Niland, although the project is on hold “for the moment”. In 2007 the council unveiled plans for a multi-million-euro cultural quarter comprising the newly developed Niland Gallery, a €14 million museum overlooking the harbour and, in a second phase, a civic space incorporating an amphitheatre and plaza.

A spokeswoman for the Niland Gallery said yesterday that the changing economic climate had resulted in “a more competitive tendering process” and as a result the cost of the Niland project, which would provide 45 construction jobs, had fallen.

Construction started last week on the extension to the Niland Gallery, a former model school built in the 1850s, and will provide improved gallery space, a blackbox performance area, artists’ studios, education facilities and a restaurant.

State grants of €3.5 million have been provided and Sligo Borough Council recently approved additional funding of €600,000. Contributions from private donors are also being sought.

Project manager Bartley Gavin said the council intended to proceed with the museum once the Model project was well under way. He pointed out that Sligo was a designated gateway town and the gateway innovation fund was still operational under the National Development Plan.

“This commencement of the Model project is an important step forward in the delivery of a cultural district for Sligo which has the potential to be a driving force in the continued growth of the city, even more so in these testing economic times,” Mr Gavin said.

The spokeswoman for the Niland, which increased visitor numbers from 30,000 in 2001 to 65,000 in 2007, said it expected 80,000 visitors next year when the centre reopens.

The centre houses and exhibits The Niland Collection, which includes works by Jack Yeats, Paul Henry and Barrie Cooke.

During the works, the Niland is hosting two exhibitions at its temporary home in Castle Street, Sligo: Signals in the Dark: Art in the Shadow of War, and Medium Religion, featuring the work of over 30 international artists.