Other Questions. - Performing Arts Academy.

John Perry

Question:

10 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the position regarding the establishment of an academy for the performing arts at Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, to include a conservatoire; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19683/98]

Proinsias De Rossa

Question:

28 Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the progress made regarding the commitment in An Action Programme for the Millennium on the establishment of a Dublin centre for performing arts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19725/98]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 28 together.

In March of this year the Minister for Education and Science and I jointly established an interdepartmental working group to examine and report back on the feasibility of establishing an academy for the performing arts, including a conservatoire at Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin.

The working group under the chairmanship of Mr. Noel Lindsay issued an interim report at the end of July. This interim report, which has many aspects to it, is being considered by me and my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science. Without prejudging the outcome of our deliberations I can say that in its interim report the working group has concluded that the Earlsfort Terrace site is suitable and could be adapted for use as an academy for the performing arts. The group supports the idea of locating the academy there provided certain critical issues can be resolved. When our consideration of the interim report has been concluded my colleague and I will move the project forward to the next stage.

I thank the Minister for her reply.

This is a major project referred to specifically in An Action Programme for the Millennium. The group dealing with this matter was given a mandate because the centre and site were named in the programme. Therefore, it was not necessary for it to conclude that the site was suitable. Will the Minister circulate the interim report? Did the report arrive at any final conclusion on the overall cost of the project and when it might be undertaken?

It was important that the report was presented on time at the end of July, as it will be the basis for our considerations. My preference is to use the Earlsfort Terrace site. However, the group had to examine whether it was feasible. It has decided it is, although certain critical issues must be resolved before any work is undertaken. One of those issues is the actual acquisition of the site. I cannot give an estimate of the cost of the proposed academy. Negotiations will have to take place with University College Dublin which owns the site.

What about the interim report?

I will see what can be done about that.

Did the interim report identify the proportionate capital and current contribution of each Department? Can the Minister indicate whether the report arrived at a capital figure for the completed project?

The matter of costs relates to the next phase of the project. We had to determine the feasibility of the site and if it had not been feasible we would have had to look at other proposals. The interim report has concluded the site is feasible. Our next step will be to negotiate with UCD. At that stage we will determine the position of the partners as regards cost. This is a matter in which I have particular interest. Not alone have we the support of the Minister for Education and Science but the Taoiseach has indicated that he would welcome the project.

Does the interim report identify the appropriate proportions that should be allocated to the Department and the Department of Education and Science?

It is my view and that of the Minister of State and the Department that we will need to have the complete support of the Minister for Education and Science who will have a great say in the negotiations with UCD. The lead Department, in terms of finance, will be the Department of Education and Science.

Who will initiate the negotiations with UCD? Will they be initiated by the interim committee or will there be a joint approach between the Minister and the Minister for Education and Science? When does the Minister expect the negotiations to begin?

I regard this as a particularly important millennium project and expect work to commence in the year 2000. I do not want to undermine the position of the working group which will initiate formal negotiations with UCD.