What We Do

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Established in 1982, Galway Arts Centre is dedicated to providing year-round access to the arts in an inclusive, welcoming hub in the heart of Galway City.

Programmes feature visual art exhibitions, events, films, music, literature, workshops, residencies, festivals, theatre and performance.

We work with artists to create, challenge and connect audiences to exceptional local, national and international art that inspires new ideas and ways of thinking about our world.

Galway Arts Centre operates two venues; the gallery at 47 Dominick Street and Nun’s Island Theatre.

For over 40 years, Galway Arts Centre has provided a year-round gallery for the city, showcasing renowned Irish and international contemporary visual arts.

Galway Arts Centre has been the nurturing seed bed for some of Galway’s leading cultural events and resources, including Cúirt International Festival of Literature, Galway Youth Theatre, Red Bird Youth Collective, TULCA Festival of Visual Art and Galway Theatre Festival.

Galway Arts Centre values imagination and integrity, collaboration, creativity and forward thinking ways of working. Equity, equality, diversity and inclusion are an essential part of our ethos.


Our History

Michael Higgins and Sabina at Nun's Island, Gaway

Image Credit: Michael D. Higgins is pictured with his wife Sabina at the Arts Centre, Nun's Island during the Galway Arts Festival, 24/07/1992 (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection). (Photo by Independent News and Media/Getty Images)

Galway Arts Centre has been at the heart of arts and cultural development in Galway City and County for over forty years. One of Ireland’s first arts centres outside of Dublin, the centre emerged in 1982 from the Galway Arts Group (GAG), a collective formed to provide support and opportunities for artists. The GAG founded the Galway Arts Festival in 1978 and opened the Galway Arts Centre in the vacant former Presbyterian Church in Nuns Island in 1981.

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Image Credit: Former Executive Director of Galway Arts Centre, Ger Ward (bottom left) pictured with the Cúirt team in the mid 90's.

In 1985, Galway Arts Centre was constituted as an organisation with an emphasis on providing a gallery space for visual arts. https://www.rte.ie/archives/2018/0320/948845-new-galway-arts-centre/

That same year, Galway Arts Centre established a three-day poetry festival called Cúirt which has since grown to a week-long event  including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, genre writing, debate, events for young people, and community-focused activities.

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Image Credit: The first Galway Youth Theatre Group, 1991. Including a young Tommy Tiernan, one of Irelamd's most well known comedians.

In 1991, Galway Youth Theatre was founded in Galway Arts Centre’s Nuns Island Theatre to provide a safe environment where young people could gain access to the arts through a theatre training programme. Led by director Andrew Flynn since 2001, Galway Youth Theatre has become a vibrant resource for young people in Galway with productions staged in high-profile international festivals.

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In 1988, Galway City Council provided the historic Persse House at 47 Dominick Street as a space for Galway Arts Centre in the city. 47 Dominick Street was built in the 1840s as a residence for the Persse family, the most famous member of which was Lady Augusta Gregory, of Coole Park, the playwright, Abbey Theatre founder and patron of the Irish Literary revival.

The galleries at 47 Dominick Street have acted as the de facto municipal gallery for Galway city since, defining and shaping local arts development.

Galway Arts Centre was closed for most of 1998 due to £500,000 refurbishment which extended the gallery space and built additional workshops and office space. Paul Fahy, who at the time was Galway Arts Centre’s Education and Visual Art Development Officer, said “The new home combines the two art forms that we are best known for – the literary, and the visual….the workshop space will have a very strong educational element, there will be a full programme of classes, projects, and we’ll have a darkroom available for use.”  [1] The Irish Times Jul 6 1998

Hundreds of Irish artists have launched and developed their careers at Galway Arts Centre, including Grace Weir, Brian Maguire, Corban Walker, Sean Lynch, Ailbhe Ni Bhriain, Ruby Wallis, Jennifer Trouton, and Declan Clarke. Galway Arts Centre also  provides an important platform for the development of curatorial practice in the west of Ireland, working with established curators such as Paul Fahy, Helen Carey, Michael Dempsey and Maeve Mulrennan.

Galway Arts Centre established Ireland’s first visual art youth collective, Red Bird Youth Collective, in 2005 as a youth-led resource for people aged 15 – 23 in Galway City and County.

Some of Galway’s most important cultural interventions got their start in Galway Arts Centre and went on to become independent cultural institutions in their own right, including the TULCA Festival of Visual Art (est. 2002) and Galway Theatre Festival (est. 2008).

Today, Galway Arts Centre is best known for its contemporary visual art programme of exhibitions, residencies, commissions and projects by leading Irish and international artists. The centre also boasts a rich engagement and learning programme which provides audiences of all ages the opportunity to connect with contemporary arts and unlock their creativity.

Galway Arts Centre continues to build new local, national and international partnerships and collaborations to develop opportunities for artists, curators, theatre makers, musicians, dancers and writers that connect audiences with contemporary arts that reflect the complexity and diversity of Irish society.