Written Answers. - National Concert Hall.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

90 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when a decision will be made on the future of the National Concert Hall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22187/03]

The National Concert Hall is the premier venue for classical musical performance in Dublin. It was built within the Earlsfort Terrace complex and shares its accommodation with University College Dublin. From the outset it was recognised that there were inadequacies in relation to the overall space allocated to it and that backstage accommodation, in particular, was limited.

A high level group comprising the Secretaries General of the then Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, the Department of Education and Science and the chairman of the Office of Public Works, was established in July 2000 to study future options for the development of the National Concert Hall in the context of planned future use of the Earlsfort Terrace premises and site. Their report recommended that approval should be given for the construction of a modern 2,000-seater concert hall facility at a greenfield site. When this report was discussed by the Government in March 2002, it asked the three Departments involved to examine further its implications. Pursuant to this request, the Office of Public Works, in conjunction with the National Concert Hall, compiled a comprehensive brief setting out the physical accommodation and ancillary requirements to meet the needs of the National Concert Hall for the foreseeable future.
Drawing on the assessment of needs set out in this brief, my Department and the Office of Public Works have had exploratory discussions with the Dublin Docklands Development Authority regarding the availability and potential suitability of a site in the Grand Canal Dock area of Dublin for the National Concert Hall. These discussions are ongoing and I am not in a position to anticipate their outcome.