The unused City Arts centre building on Moss St. Was damaged by fire on saturday 10th september. Dara mchugh looks at an alternative to dereliction.
The building was owned and run by the city arts community arts group but was closed down in 2002. It had played a big role in the city – it had been a venue for new writers, like conor mcpherson, and hosted gigs in the 80s, 90s and 00s. Later a scene for alter-globalisation gigs and events, its side wall faces ulster bank fortress and shouts out stencilled revolution. But it was left empty and became ad hoc housing for the homeless.
The arts centre is just one of many great spaces going to waste in the city. It’s impossible to walk through dublin without seeing unoccupied and derelict buildings. The council has the right to fine owners for dereliction, even do a compulsory purchase, but they don’t do it often, and they don’t do much with the buildings and sites they do buy.
We’ve got an excess of vacant land and buildings and a shortage of green spaces, sports and cultural facilities. It’s not crazy to think the two problems should cancel each other out. This could be done through a land tax, a la michael davitt, or, more limited, a pro-active council, buying out and building up where private owners can’t or won’t. Dublin’s got plenty of potential, it just needs some space.