The Longford woman in charge of one of the county’s biggest new arts and music venues is hoping a diverse range of shows will encourage people back to the arts.
Louise Donlon, originally from Moydow, has been appointed manager of the Lime Tree Theatre in Limerick. Situated on the grounds of Mary Immaculate College, this new 510-seat theatre opens officially in late October, with events scheduled to begin this week.
The venue will host a wide range of performers, with everything from Tom Barry’s ‘Guerilla Days in Ireland’, Brendan Grace and the Kilfenora Céilí Band booked in for the coming months.
Although Louise admits there is probably never a good time to open a new theatre, she said the response by the public so far has been phenomenal. “We’re four years into the economic recession now so we can’t just keep concentrating on the doom and gloom.
“The Lime Tree is opening now as a resource for the people of the region and it will hopefully have a huge role to play in encouraging people to enjoy the arts, whether it be music, dance, comedy or art.”
As a larger venue, Louise hopes the Lime Tree will allow the larger theatre companies to visit the mid-west. “We are programming theatre of a scale that previously was not able to come to the region. Larger companies such as Druid and the Abbey will be able to use the Lime Tree if they tour. We’re very much hoping that it will fit neatly into the cultural and social life of Limerick.”
Louise, who’s parents Jack and Kathleen still live in Moydow, has extensive experience in the Irish arts sector, with Island theatre Company (Limerick), Druid Theatre Company (Galway) and the Dunamaise Arts Centre (Portlaoise). She is also currently a member of the Arts Council.
Having worked in the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise, a theatre similar to Backstage Theatre, Louise understands the difficulty faced by smaller, regional theatres. “It’s a very difficult situation at the moment. There are three pillars of income for theatres: the Arts Council, Local Authorities and box offices returns. And at the moment, all three of them are very tight.
“Theatres like Backstage have jumped through enormous hoops to cut back their cloth accordingly. Many jobs have been lost in the sector, but there is always going to be a need and a demand for good regional venues,” she added.