West Cork Music will soon realise its dream of having a dedicated home in Bantry. Photo: Facebook/Visit Bantry

If you build it, they will come...

A long-held dream is about to come true in West Cork with the announcement of a new purpose-built music and entertainment hub.

For a long time now, West Cork Music has hoped to establish a dedicated home in Bantry where it can host its many festivals, concerts and educational activities.

Such a venue would also serve as a convening space for artists and the local community, a driver of Bantry’s night-time economy, and a high value tourism asset along the Wild Atlantic Way.

“We’re excited to share the latest news about this vital project and kick off twice-yearly updates on its progress,” a West Cork Music spokesperson said.

The project got underway last year with the hiring of an architect-led design team through public procurement. A shortlist of 6 designers was chosen, each of whom submitted a proposal for the project. The proposals were reviewed earlier this year with the final appointed team set to be announced in the coming weeks.

The project is now available to see online with the launch of a new 'microsite' this week. The site contains project details and an online giving facility, with regular updates to be posted on the project’s progress, including the first images of the proposed design.

The new building will be located in Bantry town centre next to the library with hopes to create a “dynamic new cultural quarter”.

Final plans for the building’s design are expected in the latter part of 2023, with design priorities including a sympathetic approach to the architectural vernacular of the surrounding residential and commercial terraces. Natural finishes and exceptional standards of sustainability and efficiency will be strongly emphasised throughout the building. A technical infrastructure to support remote learning, recording, and broadcasting will also be prioritised.

The all-important name for the new venue will be announced closer to its official opening. For now, it is provisionally referred to as Bantry Music Centre.

Regarding stakeholders, consultations and planning discussions are ongoing with those who West Cork Music anticipate will play a role in the life of the venue. These include RTÉ with regard to broadcasting, and Cork Education and Training Board. A public information evening will be held this year after the announcement of the design team.

West Cork Music is an awardee of The Arts Council's 2023 Raise Up Fund. Behind-the-scenes work is ongoing to cultivate the organisation’s prospects for philanthropic support and funding from government sources.

“Our project was warmly received at a meeting last year with the Taoiseach and out of that doors can open to future meetings with various departments and agencies. Regular meetings with Cork County Council and local TDs and councillors continue to cultivate those important regional relationships,” the spokesperson said.