Waterford City & County Council's Arts resource site
The Vacant Arts Premises Scheme has been in existence in Waterford City since 2007. Under the Waterford Rural Arts Network scheme (2016 Arts Plan) this scheme is now being rolled out by the Arts Service across the County. It’s a fast track rates waiver scheme operated by the Council to allow empty commercial spaces be used by Artists for the betterment of the community.
Under current legislation rates can be waived, at the discretion of the Local Authority, for the purposes of Education, Religion, Art and Vacancy itself as long as no commercial activity is taking place. In other words – No rent is being paid and nothing is sold.
We have two basic schemes – one where the building owner leases the building directly to the Council to be used for non-profit artist spaces – the second being where the Council has a three way contract.
How we work it is that, in conjunction with an Arts group, a building at risk is identified. We, or the group, contact the owners directly (when possible) and offer to oversee a situation where the building is basically maintained, aired, used, where the exterior ground floor area is cleaned/painted, the building insured and utilities maintained and guaranteed for a set period. Rates are fast-tracked to be waivered (locally) and a small honorarium is paid after 12 months of usage (between €100 and €400 depending on the size and usage). The owner is allowed access to the building at all times and if s/he has a commercial renter/buyer lined up or just wants to remove it from the scheme – there is a guarantee the Arts group will vacate within an eight week period.
What we look for from the Artists is:
What we look for from the Owner:
In the case of the 1st scheme the spaces come directly under the Council moniker e.g. as Council Art Spaces. We currently have kind of scheme in place for two building owned by the Tower Hotel Group, one building held by NAMA.
In the second scheme the Council operates a lower supervisory role and acts as a guarantor for utilities etc. In both cases the Council looks for personal indemnities from all artists, proof of PPL and Personal insurance (the Arts Service will also investigate whether an existing insurance group scheme can be extended to lower the cost burden on new artists to the scheme). The Council underwrites Bricks and Mortar Insurance. On this scheme we currently have one Building from the Munster Express, and three buildings owned by the Council itself.
We have found the schemes to be efficient, easy to handle and have halted dereliction and unsocial behaviour wherever we have implemented it.
If you are interested in the scheme download the relevant form, fill it in and send it to the Arts Service.