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Introduction

VISUAL is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary art spaces situated in the heart of Carlow Town, with four world class gallery spaces and a 320-seat performance space.

Our Mission
We enrich, inspire and improve the everyday through art

Our Vision
An international hub for realising the value of contemporary arts practice

Our Values
Inclusion
Excellence
Creativity
Collaboration
Ethics

Our programming is informed by the following tenets:

  • We are rooted locally but retain a national and international focus
  • We passionately believe that the arts have a vital role to play in cultural, social and economic development, and that access to meaningful engagement with the arts fosters the development of self-esteem, well-being, self-expression, social inclusion, creativity and enterprise, both in individuals and in societies.
  • We are committed to providing meaningful access to and advocacy for, contemporary artistic practice of the highest quality through our programming, events and activities. In addition, we are committed to developing the sustainability of artistic practice both locally and nationally though the ways in which we work and programme.
  • We are committed to identifying and removing physical, social and economic barriers to accessing our work and to support, foster and provide opportunities for arts participation in our communities.

How do we programme?
VISUAL places engagement at the heart of programming and builds relevance and active participation through thematic and cross-disciplinary approaches, with a focus on STEM topics as a key strength of the region. Annual exhibition plans are put in place up to two years in advance. The main planning occurs 12-18 months in advance. The programme is developed by the Programming Team, reporting to the Board of Directors. The Programming Team is comprised of the CEO and the Galleries Coordinator and Curatorial Assistant. The proposed programme is presented to the Board of VISUAL annually, and reports, metrics and evaluations regarding the exhibitions and events are presented regularly. 

Programming decisions are based on the artistic quality/merit of the work, relevance to the region, the potential to develop enriching partnerships, engagement and participation, the capacity to work thematically with other activities and exhibitions in the season and the capacity to be feasibly produced within current resources. 

Whilst VISUAL does not solicit proposals for exhibitions, we welcome artists and curators to inform us of their artistic practice and upcoming events and exhibitions by email at galleries@visualcarlow.ie or by post.

History

VISUAL is a project of Carlow Arts Centre Ltd. (CACL), a Company Limited by Share Capital, governed by a Board of Directors (Shareholders being Carlow County Council). This €18 million development is a joint project of the Carlow Local Authorities, made possible through the allocation of funding by the Local Authorities and a grant of €3.17 million by the Department of Arts, Sport & Tourism under the ACCESS Programme. A site was generously donated by Carlow College and an international architectural competition was held by the RIAI, with the final award of contract to Terry Pawson, a British architect with vast experience in designing buildings for the arts and cultural sectors.
The Centre opened in 2009. It houses a 335-seat theatre and the largest white-cube gallery space in the country - a massive 12 metres high - where it produces a programme of both commissioned and existing high-quality national and international contemporary art, plus a host of performances and events in multiple disciplines, including theatre, dance, film, comedy, literature and music.