Irish Cabaret Singer Camille O'Sullivan feels very at home at the Irish Arts Center in Hell’s Kitchen. She has performed there a number of times over the years, and is kicking off a new era there this month with her show called "Where Are We Now?"
What You Need To Know
- The Irish Arts Center was established in 1972 and is based in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan
- Its new $60 million home is around the corner from its longtime headquarters in a tenement building on West 51st Street
- The project was funded through a partnership between the City of New York and the government of Ireland, plus money from New York State and private donors
- The Center will renovate its old location for the second phase of the project for more performance and class space
"When you are a performer sometimes you are just going from building to building and in the hotel and you're out again, but this is like coming to visit family,” said O’Sullivan.
The Irish Arts Center has moved into its new building on 11th Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets. It’s mostly new, since the facade of the more than century old tire shop that was once there was incorporated into the design. It's around the corner from the tenement building that had been its home since 1972. The $60 million project was funded through a partnership between the city and government of Ireland, which was a first, plus money from the state and private donors.
"We have been part of the fabric of the neighborhood for the past almost 50 years so it's been a dream come true for so many people and to be standing here on opening week is really surreal,” said Vice Chair Pauline Turley.
The centerpiece of the project is a versatile theater that can seat up to 199 people, and opens up new possibilities for performances. For instance, dance performances that required lifts were tough in the old theater because of the height of the ceiling.
"The theater really balances that sense of intimacy that we have come to know and love about Irish Arts Center, but with some expanded artistic scale, so we are really excited that we have achieved that with our architects and our theater designers so can't wait to bring people in,” said Aidan Connolly, executive director of the center.
"We've talked about this building for so long and I think it's like such an incredible achievement, and I already know, I was saying to Aidan, you will have every person from Ireland knocking on your door now trying to get in,” said O’Sullivan.
The new digs include a lobby café, studio, meeting and class space. Irish touches include Irish Craft Furniture and Irish Poetry on the stairs dedicated to community members instrumental in getting the project done. It was delayed by about a year due to the pandemic, but has been in the works for more than a decade. The organization is not saying goodbye to its old home, that building will be renovated as the second phase of the project adding more space for performances and classes.