Waterford Cultural Quarter is a project currently being managed by Waterford City & County Council and is led by a steering group of individuals and organisations based on the cultural and creative sectors. We hope it will play a vital development role for Waterford city centre, nurturing and attracting distinctive cultural and creative production and generating a dynamic cultural life for the area that enhances the city’s retail and tourism offering.
Our aim is to : “To deliver inclusive and sustainable innovation and growth for the cultural and creative sectors of south east Ireland; to become a distinctive and engaging place to the heart of Waterford which is open, inspiring and a vital addition to the city’s creative, knowledge and visitor economy”.
The Plan is for the proposed Waterford Cultural Quarter (WCQ) on Waterford’s O’Connell Street and its tributaries. It is commissioned by Waterford City and County Council (WCCC) with a view to exploring the potential for a WCQ which will play a transformative role for this district of the city, for the capacity, confidence and sustainable growth of the cultural and creative sectors of the city and region and for the inclusion of the communities who live in the area.
In doing so, it will play a vital developmental role for Waterford city centre, nurturing and attracting distinctive cultural and creative production and generating a dynamic cultural life for the area that enhances the city’s retail and tourism offer and transform urban living for local communities.
The Plan describes the current reality of O’Connell Street – as a richly historic thoroughfare of the city, with a tapestry of heritage buildings and deep memories as a place of trade, worship and social practice. Though a zone in transition – it has lost much of the prosperity and energy of its past and is struggling to find a purpose in the modern city. New beginnings and a fresh distinctiveness are evidenced through the diverse communities who call it home, the range of cultural assets located on the street, the emerging scene of bars and cafés, and the cultural hub offered by Garter Lane Arts Centre.
It is by nurturing this scene and by providing the enabling conditions for cultural and creative activities and production to flourish that O’Connell Street can be re-imagined and then re-born as a vital part of Waterford’s future. This Plan, informed as it is by extensive consultation and research, shows that O’Connell Street and its environs has the potential to become the type of inclusive, engaging, sustainable cultural ecosystem befitting the designation of Waterford’s Cultural Quarter. A cultural quarter which is co-created with existing residents and the wider cultural and creative sectors; that provides a mix of affordable and accessible spaces and platforms for cultural production and consumption; and thus becomes attractive as a place to meet, exchange, do business, and participate in the cultural life of a changing city and the gateway to Ireland’s south east.
To reach this point – where the WCQ operates as a sustainable model which provides a serious uplift in the culture and economy of the city and county – requires a long-term (5-10 year) commitment to sensitive urban change; an inclusive approach to partnership; and a blend of vision, opportunism and shared responsibility. This is (a) where the local authority operates as an enabler and champion, securing long-term cultural and creative use for buildings, encouraging developmental projects and use of spaces to animate the landscape, creating a planning framework which supports the development of the cultural quarter, being adventurous in mixed use of the street environment and working to build pathways for local communities to participate in the cultural life of Waterford city; and (b) where key partners in education (notably Waterford Institute of Technology and the Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board), culture (the city’s key cultural organisations) and business (creative industries, technology, retail and hospitality); will need to shape a collaborative approach, conceptualising the WCQ as a shared concept which reinvigorates the civic, cultural and economic life of the city.
To read the Waterford Cultural Quarter Plan click here
Image © School of Architecture – Waterford Institute of Technology