Press Statement: The Exchange 1st February 2014
Thousands continue to sign a petition to refute claims that The Exchange could be responsible for perceived anti-social behaviour in Temple Bar. It is well known that the area suffers issues common to many urban centres. It is not reasonable that an individual organization should be singled-out as solely accountable, especially one operating an alcohol-free and drug-free policy. For over four years, Exchange Dublin has hosted a wide range of arts, cultural, educational and community events for all ages in an alcohol-free and drug-free environment. The Exchange is open until 7th February and urges the public to support it to remain open beyond this date.
On Friday 31st January 2014, members requested clarity regarding the contents of a 10 point plan drafted by Mr. Ray Yeates CEO Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT) and City Arts Officer at Dublin City Council (DCC) for the future of The Exchange. It was agreed that the terms of this proposal would be discussed by members and a response presented to Mr. Yeates on Friday 7th February. Until then, Exchange is open and welcoming the support of the public. After this date, TBCT and DCC proposes to close the space for a 3 month review period but as of yet, there is no commitment to the reinstatement of this important resource.
Messages from supporters have flooded into The Exchange following the threat of closure. They attest to the integrity, creativity and necessity of this unique space. Here is just a small sample from these messages:
“I’m your neighbour and saddened by the news. I read on the Irish Times this morning that some of the neighbours were criticizing you for creating anti-social behaviour when you are doing EXACTLY the opposite: you’re making the whole area so much more welcoming, lively, liveable, and actually contribute greatly to reducing the anti-social behaviour in the area by creating that brilliant social interaction.”
“Young people need this. It inspires young people and keeps them away from ‘anti-social’ behavior.”
For everyone, it is a “second home where they can find people from all over the world and learn many things about the Irish and other cultures”
Volunteer Jules Fitzsimons expressed concerns regarding the ongoing lack of clarity around the re-opening of The Exchange after this period; “The reason given for perceived anti-social behaviour remains unwarranted in our opinion and also in that of our public and political supporters. Neither is it clear by what mechanisms this behaviour is being assessed, either before or after a closure. Our programme is full, including and beyond International Women’s Day. It will cause great distress to cancel events at such late notice. The Exchange welcomes the commitments made by Mr. Yeates yesterday evening in terms of support for a review of the cooperative structure, arts funding, youthwork supports and improved partnerships with TBCT however we are dismayed by the prospect of reneging on the current commitment in our schedule.”
Artist Siobhán Clancy, who has exhibited at The Exchange previously, reflected “In a 2010 Dublin City Council survey on ‘Your Dublin Your Voice’, 31% of respondents voted that the best thing about Dublin was the friendliness, humour and warmth of the people whilst 17% considered it to be the range of culture, arts and activities. Based on my own experience and those evidenced by the comments of over 5000 signees to a petition launched earlier this week, The Exchange has consistently demonstrated on these qualities. It’s a shame that this unique attraction to visitors, art practitioners and interns from all over the world should have to close in this way.”
The Exchange encourages the public to continue to show your support for this vital arts and cultural space in the critical week ahead. You can drop by to sign our petition and leave your own message in person or online at http://www.change.org/petitions/exchange-has-been-asked-to-close-help-us-to-stop-it#share Artists and representatives of organizations who have previously engaged with our arts and culture programme over the years are invited to attend a collective meeting at 7pm on Wednesday 5th 2014. Exchange will present our your vision for a future and we want to add your ideas to that. If you cannot attend, please feel free to email us your ideas.
Contact The Exchange at firstname.lastname@example.org with input or for information or call 01 6779264.