May 17, 2006

Proposal to Relocate NCAD to UCD Scrapped

A proposal to relocate the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) to the University College Dublin (UCD) campus in Belfield has been scrapped. A collective sigh of relief is sure to be expressed by students, artists and lecturers alike on hearing that the Board of NCAD has decided not to pursue its controversial relocation plan which attracted widespread disapproval. A statement from the NCAD Board is expected in the coming days.

NCAD has been in talks with UCD since last October discussing the prospect of moving to the Belfield Campus where there is ample space to develop a new purpose built art facility for the college. It would be much cheaper to build a new facility than to renovate and develop NCADs’ existing premises which is estimated to cost in the region of 80 million Euro.

NCAD students were strongly against the move and organised a series of demonstrations over the past few months. Staff of the Fine Art faculty also came out publicly against the move as did the membership of Aosdana. Those opposed to the plans argued that a move to UCD would end NCAD's historic connection with the city centre and would be detrimental to the identity and ethos of the college.

NCAD, located on Dublin's Thomas Street, is close to all the major art institutions (IMMA, Hugh Lane, National Gallery), many art organisations and studios as well as a whole host of material and service suppliers – all essential to nurturing art practice. In addition, the removal of NCAD would be a loss to Dublin City Councils plans to develop the cultural identity of the Thomas Street area.

Though this news may be welcomed by many, NCAD remains in the difficult position of having to raise the huge amount of money needed if it is to develop and stay at its current location.

The NCAD board is chaired by Joe Mulholland and includes Marie Bourke of the National Gallery; solicitor and politician Liam Crowley; artist Betty Newman-Maguire; designer John Sherwin; and politician Mairin Quill. It also includes elected staff and student representatives John Brennan, Jennifer Caffrey, Theresa McKenna and Andrew Folan, as well as NCAD director Colm O'Briain.

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