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Non-alcohol space Exchange Dublin told to close over 'anti-social behaviour'

Volunteers who were told in an email that they have until this Friday to hand back the keys have now started a petition to keep the cultural space open.

A performance at Exchange Dublin during Culture Night 2012.
A performance at Exchange Dublin during Culture Night 2012.
Image: Exchange Dublin via Facebook

EXCHANGE DUBLIN, A collective arts space located in Temple Bar, has been told to close due to “anti-social behaviour”.

In an email from the Temple Bar Cultural Trust and Dublin City Council on Monday night, volunteers were told they would have to hand back the keys this Friday.

The non-alcohol space hosts music and art events and exhibitions and also offers up the space for groups to have knitting clubs, storytelling sessions and all kinds of workshops.

It is run by volunteers in association with the Temple Bar Cultural Trust and is funded by a grant from the Arts Council.

Yesterday, those who run the space started a petition urging artists and independent councillor Mannix Flynn, Ray Yeates the Dublin City Arts Officer  and other politicians not to close the space.

“The “official reason” that for us sounds as an excuse is “antisocial behaviour”,” they said. “This antisocial behaviour that there was always in the streets of Temple Bar but not within or inside our non alcohol space!”

They said that “bad kids”, drug-taking and violence were mentioned in a letter they received last summer and more recently bongo-drumming by buskers on the street outside.

Dublin is full of pockets of young people, some of whom are aware of each other but have no platform to engage with each other or their city. This space is intended to provide an infrastructure for inquiry, discourse and collaboration as an antidote to some of our social problems in Dublin.

One of the volunteers told TheJournal.ie that the short notice they were given is “really inconvenient” for the numerous artists who are currently exhibiting at the space.

“The majority of people feel like it’s really unfair, considering the amount of meetings we’ve had with the police and they have said we’re not the cause of the anti-social behaviour – this is the residents and businessowners who are saying this,” she said.

The online petition already had 904 supporters early yesterday evening.

“Closing it would reflect once again that political decisions lack the understanding of what arts and culture bring to society (education, inventivity, self-expression, social exchanges, and even in terms of health, tourism and economy),” commented one person who signed the petition. “The “antisocial behaviour” excuse is inconsistent as precisely Exchange Dublin brings people together in a constructive way!”

Dublin City Council did not respond to a request for comment on the issue.

Read: Bus Éireann passengers terrorised by ‘rowdy’ youths throwing urine around coach>

Read: Fire crew stoned with rocks a day after they call for an end in anti-social behaviour>

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