'You just have to roll with it'; Cork arts community reacts to venue closures under Level 3 restrictions

'You just have to roll with it'; Cork arts community reacts to venue closures under Level 3 restrictions

Sean Kelly, Executive Director of The Everyman  MacCurtain Street, Cork. Picture: Larry Cummins

There was huge disappointment amongst leading members of the arts community as galleries, museums, and other cultural institutions in Cork closed their doors on Tuesday for a period of three weeks, but the will to persevere has not yet been lost.
Under level three restrictions, all galleries, museums and cultural attractions were forced to close, with libraries available for e-services and call and collect only.

For The Everyman, the move to level three has meant the theatre will not be able to reopen to a live audience on October 15 as planned.

The historic theatre on MacCurtain St has remained closed to patrons since the lockdown back in March, the longest period of closure the theatre has seen in over 30 years.

“We were so looking forward to having audiences back in the theatre — it is of course, bitterly disappointing that we can’t do that,” Seán Kelly, executive director of The Everyman told The Echo.

As part of the Play It By Ear programme of events The Everyman had announced prior to the countrywide move to level three, that shows would be available to patrons through an audio broadcast and these will go ahead.

“We will still reopen on October 15 as planned, just without an audience.

“As part of Play It By Ear we were always offering an audio link that people could pay for and enjoy the show at home as a radio play and we had built the shows to be enjoyable as a radio play, so that part will still be there,” Mr Kelly explained.

“Anyone who has bought a ticket will be given the opportunity to switch to an audio file that they can listen to live at home as the
performances will still be live from the theatre, just without an audience in the auditorium.

“We’re trying to do that for the period of level three restrictions for as much as possible. Assuming that we go back to level three after three weeks, which we would all love to see case numbers going down and that happening, then we will certainly be reopening after that.”

Mr Kelly thanked the public for their continued support and said the theatre is “chomping at the bit” to let patrons back in as soon as they can.

One of Cork’s most popular cultural hubs, Triskel Arts Centre, reopened to the public in late July having been closed for over four months due to the Covid-19 crisis, but under level three restrictions, the venue has now been forced to close once again.

“We’ve worked really hard since July to ensure a safe and relaxed experience at Triskel and in fact, we were back to presenting cinema, concerts, and exhibitions more or less full time,” Tony Sheehan, artistic director said.

“So it’s tough that we have to postpone or in some cases cancel movies, music, and visual arts — and we are mindful that this impacts artists most of all, who need us to be open and trading in order for artists to be able to earn for their work.

“We do understand these restrictions are to protect us all and we’re happy to do our part in keeping people healthy.

“We will persevere, and we look forward to reopening as soon as it is safe to do so.”

On the cusp of hosting the second year of Cork Podcast Festival, The Kino on Washington St will have to cancel this and other events planned for the next three weeks.

“It’s a disappointment, but everyone is in the same boat really — bars, restaurants, venues,” Joe Kelly, who runs The Kino with his business partner Ed O’Leary, said.“I just think it’s unfortunate that we’re at this position.

“I’m guessing the Government is making these decisions to try to scare people and to say to them ‘look, you have to follow the guidelines.’ From what we can see, there’s a lot of people not doing that.”

Although disappointed that The Kino will have to close for three weeks, Mr Kelly said the decision to implement tighter restrictions has to be accepted.

“You just have to respect the judgment and roll with it,” he said.

Likewise, the director of the Glucksman Gallery, Fiona Kearney, said it is disappointing that the gallery has to close for three weeks, but encouraged people to participate in online activities it will be running.

“We are very sad to have to close the Glucksman, especially when we have put huge effort into creating a safe environment to view art,” she said. “Our galleries may be off limits, but of course our team will be online with lots of art activities, digital events, and ideas to keep you creative — even our shop is online.”

 Mary McCarthy, Director of the Crawford Art Gallery. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Mary McCarthy, Director of the Crawford Art Gallery. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Similarly, Mary McCarthy, director of the Crawford Art Gallery, said she hoped people would comply with public health advice so that a return to level two restrictions might be
possible after three weeks.

“We would encourage people to engage with our online content as a way of keeping in touch with the Crawford while we are closed for the next three weeks,” she added.

“Three weeks will go by quickly, it really will.”

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