In honor of St. Patricks Day, the Irish Arts Center unveiled plans on March 17, 2014 for a new state-of-the-art headquarters to be built in Hell’s Kitchen, at 533 W. 51st St. You may not know it, but the Irish Arts Center has produced theater, music, dance, arts and cultural events in New York City for the past 40 years. They are currently located in Hell’s Kitchen, at 553 W. 51st Street. This new HQ, with an impressive array of performance spaces, will greatly expand the organization’s programming ability.
Here’s what the new arts center will have to offer. There’s a 199-seat theater, with new back-of-house facilities, an expanded stage and an upper-level balcony. Using new technology the Irish Arts Center will be able to film live shows and talks for a wider distribution outside of New York. A live music cafe will seat 80 to 90 people and not only host live music but also informal talks, film screenings and panel discussions. There’s also a 1,250-square-foot studio designed expressly for Irish dance. It’ll be used for dance classes, rehearsals and residencies. It’ll also have an adjacent outdoor terrace. Finally, there will be two classrooms for community education programs, and a street level social space that includes a community garden.
As the executive director Aidan Connolly said in a release, “We will finally have a proper home to share the excellence, diversity and dynamism of Irish culture with New York and the world. Honoring our immigrant roots while telling the story of an evolving Ireland and Irish America, the new Irish Arts Center will look outward and redefine what it means to be an ethnically rooted cultural center.”
The building will be supported through a partnership of both the New York City and the Irish government. Public review of the project is expected to begin this spring, with construction starting up next year. If all goes well, the new Irish Arts Center will open in 2016. Keep up with the progress at Almost Home 2016, the Irish Arts Center website dedicated to the new building.