MORE Government funding may be required to see Macroom’s Briery Gap theatre open again following its closure over two-and-a-half-years ago.
The well-known theatre was extensively damaged by a fire in May 2016 after it had only undergone a major refurbishment project in 2013.
A shortfall of funding has delayed the building’s reopening.
The theatre and library are run by Cork County Council and a local board of management.
The bill for restoration had been estimated at €2.5m but more stringent building regulations imposed by the EU mean higher specifications have driven the price up to closer to €4m.
Minister for Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, has now said Cork County Council may be able to explore other State funding options to raise the money required.
“My department was supportive of assisting with the reconstruction of this building,” the Minister said.
“In this regard, my department offered to provide funding of up to €250,000 to assist with the restoration and enhancement, in principle, to Cork County Council, pending clarity on all reinstatement issues, including the contribution from insurances and subject to the acceptance by the council of the conditions attached to this funding.
“I understand that the County Council’s reinstatement proposal is significantly more ambitious than the available finance and the council has been in ongoing engagement with officials in my department in relation to the project and this shortfall in funding.
“In this regard, there may also be other options open to the council to close the funding gap. My department will maintain contact with the council in this regard.”
Local TD Aindrias Moynihan (FF) says its closure continues to deprive local businesses of valuable revenue streams.
“The loss of the Briery Gap was a big loss to the town. It’s important we now get the different funding streams in place. Every month that the Briery isn’t there is more difficult on organisations and drama groups and musical societies, and so on. It will bring footfall in and it’s a cultural hub. It’s a very positive feature in the town centre.”