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From Broadsheet.ie: Dublin Exchange Social Centre to close for three months

category dublin | arts and media | other press author Friday February 07, 2014 22:29author by T Report this post to the editors

This from broadsheet.ie ....

You may know Exchange Dublin, a booze free, arts and community co-op space in Temple Bar, Dublin, is being forced to vacate its premises {by landlords The Temple Bar Cultural Trust] for three months following incidents of ‘anti-social’ behavior outside the space.

exchange_outside.jpg

The volunteer-run space housed all manner of classes and events and was an offbeat sanctuary offering every visitor a free cup of tay.

Writer and teacher Luke Sheehan writes:


The decision to serve [notice on Exchange Dublin] and the thinking behind that is surely behind it, can hardly surprise a younger Irish person. Ireland the gerontocracy, Ireland the conservative plutocracy asserts itself again.

Space and freedom are given, but only for a time, and on shifting preconditions. Diversity of attitude in the city is grudgingly permitted, but only within boundaries set by a paternalistic set of bureaucrats, a mixture of elected and non-elected officials that are scarcely answerable even to the electorate that they care about, which obviously excludes the mostly young and engaged citizens behind this endeavour in a corner of Temple Bar.

…As an non-alcohol, non-commercial space within Temple Bar and Dublin, this enterprise is remarkable. As an open-ended, collectively run-organisation it has radical potential.

Such a framework will present problems as an inevitable function of its ambition and its pro-cultural, pro-social outlook. Correct solutions should involve the volunteers and anyone affected — shutting down the place is stupid, and it is hypocritical. Heroin users have been known to discard their needles in the gardens of the Civic Offices; must the premises be closed or the workers there blamed for this, and the related issues behind it?

The reasons given for the closure of Exchange Dublin, such as they are publicly known, are a nonsense. Anti-social behaviour in the street is not the responsibility of the volunteers. Crime anywhere is the responsibility of the Gardaí.

The notion that ”residents, local business people, gardaí and councillors” convened a meeting to discuss ”antisocial behaviour” in Temple Bar, of all places, and came to the startling conclusion that in a quarter known europe-wide for binge drinking and every kind of chaos that follows that, the solution was to close a tiny arts collective, is completely risible.

The fact that Ray Yeates, now ”Chief Executive” of the ”Cultural Trust” of Temple Bar (though he sounds he should be in charge of a wholly commerical as opposed to cultural entity) was unable to substantiate what was meant by the “Antisocial” claims verifies the conclusion, in my view, that the deeper reasoning is simply prejudice and rigidity.

Even if the centre remains open, or closes and reopens, the attitude is telling: as the Irish Times observes, it is likely the start of a trend; as property jumps in value again, culture and youth are given their notice of eviction. The explanation that three months of ”reflection” should ensue once Exchange is shut is as bizzare as it is patronising.

Rather, we should open a dozen more like it in Dublin at once, and one in every town in the country. Apart from shop or drink, what is there to do in our urban centres? With its screenings, workshops, exhibitions and seminars, its academics and artists, this little place had a hundred answers to that question.

The Taoiseach has rightly commented on the need to provide reasons for us to stay. Stay and be patronised? Stay in Ireland the gerontocracy, Ireland the socially conservative but totally commercialised tax enclave, in Ireland the plutocracy?

No-one should be surprised by the continuing negative thinking of many of our brightest young people. Many have left already. Such an approach, and a thousand other small examples, will lead many more to decline the offer to remain.


The Irish Times report covering the closure is covered here
http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/temple-ba...75585

The report opens with:

Temple Bar Exchange forced to close its doors

This week the arts space Exchange Dublin were asked to hand their keys back to the Temple Bar Cultural Trust

There was once a shop in west Temple Bar with a €50,000 sofa in its window. Then came the recession, the shop disappeared and the space was filled with artistically minded teenagers who salvaged furniture from skips.....

....The group says it first heard about this deadline days earlier – but there has been friction between the organisation and its landlords and local residents for some time. Neighbours claim that the space is partly to blame for antisocial behaviour in the area.

The 24 or so volunteers feel they have been addressing such problems and are being unfairly scapegoated for nebulous issues outside of their control.

I have visited the Exchange and seen vegan café evenings, African drumming, dance classes and funny, offbeat exhibitions. On Mondays there is a community cinema and anyone who wishes can visit and avail of a free cup of tea. The exchange prides itself on an open-door policy, which allows anyone to contribute, exhibit, meet or perform there...

Related Link: http://www.broadsheet.ie/2014/02/07/running-out-of-space/
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