Irish Centre's Future Secured With Help From Celtic Tiger

New era heralded by a major festival of Irish music, film and photography

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Journalist and author Fergal Keane, was star guest at the Irish Book Fair at the Irish Centre pictured with artistic director Rosalind Scanlon

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The future of the Hammersmith Irish Centre has been secured after H&F Council agreed to transfer responsibility for its management to a new organisation which has the full support of the Irish Government.

Funding has been secured from the Irish Government's grant-giving Dion Committee to maintain and develop the service at the centre, which is one of the country's best and most vibrant Irish centres. The successful agreement puts an end to recent media speculation about the centre's future.

Rosalind Scanlon, artistic director of the Hammersmith Irish Centre, said, "Since opening in 1995, Hammersmith Irish Centre has earned a tremendous reputation for being one of the UK's most vibrant centres for Irish arts, live music and culture. The announcement that it will soon be leased by an independent board is a clear sign that the Irish community not only recognises the immense value and success of all the work that has been carried out throughout the past 12 years but that, with the Irish Government's support, they are keen to run the service in the future. This marks a new and major stage in Hammersmith Irish Centre's development and we can be confident that the centre and its cultural programme will continue to thrive and grow."

A board of directors has been formed to run the new organisation - a not-for-profit company called the Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith Ltd. The new company will take over responsibility for running the Irish Centre from 1 April and will seek charitable status in its first few months of operation.

Speaking on behalf of the board, one of the directors Jim O'Hara said, "We are delighted to lead this exciting venture. It is a unique opportunity to sustain and extend the centre's innovative cultural programme and to secure the future for its services.
We could not have done this without the support of H&F Council and the Dion Committee and we look forward to further developing that partnership in the coming years."

Cllr Antony Lillis, H&F Council's cabinet member for community services, said, "The Hammersmith Irish Centre provides a highly valued service and has built up a reputation as one of the UK's best Irish centres. We are delighted that this successful agreement with the new organisation will maintain and develop the fantastic service it provides."

The last cultural event before the handover to the new organisation will be Mulkere's Big Session, featuring the talents of more than 40 young musicians aged 7 - 18, which will take place at 8pm on Saturday 31 March. The young players are all students of leading music teacher Brendan Mulkere.

The new era for the Hammersmith Irish Centre will be heralded by a major festival of Irish music, film and photography. The Celtic Heart Festival 2007 will run from 12 - 21 April, with events taking place at Hammersmith Irish Centre, in Blacks Road, and Riverside Studios, in Crisp Road. Highlights include concerts by the 'Queen of the Squeeze Box' Sharon Shannon, Finbar Furey of legendary family band The Fureys and top selling traditional Irish band Altan, as well as the very best new and recent Irish feature films, documentaries and short films.

Festival brochures are available from the Irish Centre on 020 8563 8232 and all music events, Riverside Studios events and festival passes are bookable through the Riverside box office on 020 8237 1111.

April 12, 2007