Temple Bar commercialised at expense of culture, report finds

Cultural organisations based in the area found to be ‘complicit in this failure’

“A casual stroller entering and walking through Temple Bar might rightly wonder why it is designated Dublin’s cultural quarter,” says report. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Temple Bar’s arts community has been complicit in the failure of Dublin’s so-called cultural quarter to realise its potential, a new report has found.

While envisioned as a model for urban regeneration, the south inner city location became more skewed toward the hospitality sector and other interests, according to the report commissioned by the Project Arts Centre.

“A casual stroller entering and walking through Temple Bar might rightly wonder why it is designated Dublin’s cultural quarter. The brand that is Temple Bar has been commercialised at the expense of culture.”

The unpublished report, Unity of Purpose and Sustaining Futures, draws on the experiences and views of 24 resident cultural organisations. It says Temple Bar has become "besieged by antisocial behaviour", while "the visibility of culture in the area is barely apparent".


Arts driven

The report, which was complied by Arthur Lappin of Kilspin Ltd and finalised in October, comes as Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT), which had administered the area, winds down its operations.

It makes the case for a new arts-driven organisation in place of TBCT, as well as suggestions on how best to use the proceeds from the forthcoming sale of properties. The report is before the TBCT board and Dublin City Council for consideration.

“The ultimate objective is to see Temple Bar restored to a vibrant cultural quarter where the culture needs of people who reside, work, and visit Temple Bar are not eclipsed and compromised by a burgeoning commercial sector,” the report says.

Temple Bar’s inability to become a “vibrant and thriving” corner of the city is the greatest failure of the disbanding TBCT, it says. “The cultural organisations in Temple Bar have been, unwittingly or otherwise, complicit in this failure.”

The organisations consulted include Dublin Theatre Festival; Filmbase; Dublin Fringe Festival; the Irish Film Institute; Smock Alley Theatre and the Gaiety School of Acting.

Some 24 of 40 cultural organisations in Temple Bar are tenants of TBCT, occupying 17 buildings and contributing about €580,000 in rent annually. However, the rental agreements are described as “inexplicably unequal” and the report’s suggested new body would address this issue.


It found a “strong desire” for a representative organisation to communicate with Dublin City Council. “Debate and collaboration will be essential to defining future policy and reclaiming Temple Bar as Dublin’s cultural quarter. The new representative body will be ideally positioned to inspire and facilitate this.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times