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• Kathleen Holohan - Chairperson
• Bernie O’Brien
• Rachel Doyle
• Councillor Brian O'Donoghue
• Declan Doyle – Chairperson, Financial Committee
• Catriona Crowe
• Karan Thopmson
• Councillor Denis Foley
• Fiona Kearney
• Dr. Derek Coyle
• Fergus Cronin
• Tadhg O’Sullivan
• Brendan Dowling

Kathleen Holohan - Chairperson (appointed 2015)
Kathleen Holohan became Chief Executive of Carlow Council on 19th October 2015, having previously been Deputy Chief Executive of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council from July 2007 and a Director of Services with the Council from March 2001. Kathleen was a Director in 3 key directorates - Housing, Planning and Corporate Services and Human Resources. She previously worked in Dublin County Council and Dun Laoghaire Corporation.Kathleen has been a member of a number of Boards including Venturepoint, Southside Partnership and the Homeless Agency which she chaired from May 2004 to January 2009. She was involved in the establishment of the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire and was a board member from June 2000 to April 2008.

Bernie O’Brien 
Bernie O’Brien is Director of Services with Carlow Local Authorities and is responsible for Community & Enterprise, Economic Development & Corporate Services/HR. Her role includes implementation of the Carlow Local Authorities’ Economic Development and Promotional Strategies for the county, management of all local authority activity related to community development, including the arts, and has responsibility for all Corporate and HR functions. Bernie has over thirty years experience in local government, having worked in all of the functional areas of the Carlow Local Authorities.  She is also a board member of Carlow Community Enterprise Centres Ltd.; Carlow Town & County Amenity Trust Ltd., and Carlow Rural Information Services Project Ltd.

Rachel Doyle (appointed 2017)
Rachel Doyle is the Chief Executive Chairperson of the five star award winning Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven, Leighlinbridge, Carlow and Arboretum Kilquade, Wicklow. Rachel’s entrepreneurial dream to start her own business started after graduating from college in 1976. Rachel identified a niche in the market and the seed was sown. She opened a small garden centre at the rear of the family home and soon the business grew in success.
Since then Arboretum prides itself on building strong customer rapport, supplying only the highest quality products and providing excellent customer service. This is the foundation for the achievements and growth of Arboretum which currently employs 117 people. In 2015, Rachel realised a long held vison and opened a second store in Kilquade, Wicklow. This new outlet boasts 5.2 acres with a multitude of inspirational gardens, onsite café and Arboretum shop.
This dedication to enterprise has gained Rachel worldwide recognition. Some of the recent accolades Arboretum has won include the coveted title of Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) Garden Centre of the year 2017, REI National Company of the Year 2016 and REI National Store of the Year 2015. Arboretum was also Bord Bia Garden Centre of the year in 2015 and 2014. Rachel is on the Women in Business Retail Excellence Ireland Committee and speaks at many events throughout the country and abroad, inspiring entrepreneurs and women in business.
To highlight how entrepreneurial Rachel is, she held the coveted position of President of the International Garden Centre Association from 2013 -2015, which for the first time in 56 years was held by person in Ireland. Rachel is also on the main board of Bord Bia and is invited as a guest to all horticultural board meetings where she has served since its inception. Rachel successfully bid for Ireland to host the IGCA international congress in 2014, bringing 240 people from all over the world to Ireland. Rachel has furthermore been a board member of County Carlow Chamber where she served as President for a two year period.

Councillor Denis Foley (appointed 2014)
Councillor Denis Foley (FG) has been a full-time politician since first elected to Muinebheag Town Council in 1979. He was elected to Carlow County Council in 1999 and served as joint Chairperson of both bodies on a number of occasions. His other roles have included Joint Chairperson of Carlow Education Training Board, Officer of the Educational Training Board of Ireland, Board Member of the National Adult Literacy Association and Executive Member of INVOLVE (Young travellers association). He is also Chairperson of the Board of Management of Mhuinebheag Vocational School. He is a lifelong supporter of the GAA, an active participant of the committee and Vice president of St Andrew’s SFC, and an active member of the IFA. 

Councillor Brian O'Donoghue (appointed 2014)
Brian is one of the youngest county councillors in Carlow at just 26 and was elected to the council for the first time this year. Working as a journalist in Carlow since 2008 while still a student and continuing that work since having left Griffith College in Dublin with a degree in Journalism and Visual Media, Brian has a background in print and broadcast media particularly in sport but also in current affairs. Brian is no stranger to the stage having played the roles of Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin in Tullow Community Schools production of Calamity Jane in 2004 and the role of Samuel in the same schools production of the Pirates of Penzance. His main hobbies include GAA and most other sports.

Declan Doyle (appointed 2015)
Declan Doyle is Head of Development at the Institute of Technology Carlow where he has responsibility for Research, Innovation and Internationalisation. Prior to this he was the Head of Wexford Campus where he had responsibility for the Wexford Campus School of Art and Design.  In this position he worked with lecturers who are active in research and practice to develop a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Fine Art, a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Visual Communication and a unique Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Professional Arts Management.  During this time he also worked on a multi-million euro collaborative project with partners from Wales to increase capacity and to build linkages between artists, art centres and community groups on both sides of the Irish Sea. He has previously served on the board of Wexford Arts Centre.

In his teaching career he has lectured in the School of Business and Humanities of IT Carlow primarily teaching management and marketing modules.  He has also lectured in the Department of Marketing in NUI Galway, and has been a guest lecturer in ISC Paris, FHTW Berlin, University of Voronezh (Russia) and the Technical University in Warsaw (Poland) and with various Erasmus partners.  He is on the editorial committee of a major European network of educators and has been an invited speaker at international conferences across Europe and Asia.

Karan Thompson (appointed 2016)
Karan Thompson is founder and Director of Karan Thompson Consulting Limited (KTCL), a consultancy practice with specialist experience in the arts, culture, creative industries and tourism sectors. She specialises in innovation development, commercialising creativity, marketing and business development for arts and cultural organisations, support agencies and local authorities. Key projects include: Bid Adviser and Writer for the Three Sisters 2020 European Capital of Culture Bid; Industry Report on behalf of DCCoI to reposition Waterford as an International Centre for Glass Making and Design; Project management for Yeats 2015; Destination and experience Development for the Wild Atlantic Way; Project Mentor for Fáilte Ireland’s Cultural Insights Project; Evaluation of the National Music Education Pilots which led to the development of Music Generation. 

Prior to establishing KTCL in 2001, Karan worked in the public and private sectors holding significant roles including: Vice President of Global Customer Services, Braxtel Communications (Boston, Ireland and UK) and Events, Operations and Special Projects Manager at the National Concert Hall, Dublin.  A regular guest lecturer on third level programmes for arts and culture, at both University College Dublin and IADT.  She is a former member of the Board of the National Concert Hall and former Chair of the Helix Advisory Board (DCU).

Catriona Crowe (appointed 2014)
Catriona Crowe is Head of Special Projects at the National Archives of Ireland. She is Manager of the Irish Census Online Project, which has placed the 1901 and 1911 censuses online free of charge over the last 5 years. She is an Editor of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, which published its seventh volume, covering the period 1941-45, in November 2010. She is editor of Dublin 1911, published by the Royal Irish Academy in late 2011.

She is Vice-President of the Irish Labour History Society, and a former President of the Women’s History Association. She is Chairperson of the Irish Theatre Institute, which promotes and supports Irish theatre and has created an award-winning website of Irish theatre productions. She is Chairperson of the SAOL Project, a rehabilitation initiative for women with addiction problems, based in the North Inner City, and also Chairperson of the Inner Cirty Renewal Group, which delivers employment and welfare rights advice and support to the community in the North Inner City. She contributes regularly to the broadcast and print media on cultural and historical matters. She is a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Fiona Kearney (appointed 2014)
Fiona Kearney is the founding Director of the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, a purpose built award-winning art museum on the campus of University College Cork. In this position she has curated Folly: Art after Architecture, Living/Loss: The Experience of Illness in Art, Modern American Painting from the NYU Art Collection; The Year of the Golden Pig: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection and Through the Looking Glass: Childhood in Contemporary Photography. In June 2013, she was invited to curate a major exhibition of Irish art at the Galeria civica di Modena, Italy. Island: New Art from Ireland formed part of the International Culture Programme for Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union.

Throughout her career, Fiona has received several distinguished awards including the designation of college scholar by UCC, the NUI Prix d'Honneur from the French Government, a UCC President’s Award for Research on Innovative Forms of Teaching, and a Fulbright scholarship. In June 2006, she was awarded the Jerome Hynes Fellowship on the Clore Leadership Programme, the highest award offered to an individual by the Arts Council of Ireland. In July 2008, she participated in the Getty Museum Leadership Institute at the Getty Center, Los Angeles. In December 2008, she was appointed to serve as a member of the Arts Council of Ireland for a 5-year term, where she chaired its Policy and Strategy Committee. Fiona has published widely on contemporary art and has contributed articles and reviews to Source, Circa, and the Irish Arts Review. She is a member of the Irish Museums Association, ICOM, IKT and AICA.

Dr. Derek Coyle (appointed 2017)
Dr. Derek Coyle is a Lecturer in English in Carlow College. B.A. Th., M.A. Th. (Pontifical University, Maynooth); M.A. (Maynooth University); Ph.D. (University of Glasgow)

Dr Derek Coyle has published poems and reviews in the United States, Britain and Ireland. He has been shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award (2010, 2014), the Bradshaw Prize (2011), and in 2012 he was a chosen poet for the Poetry Ireland ‘Introductions Series’. In 2013 he was a runner-up in the Bradshaw Prize. Dr Coyle has read his poems in museums, galleries and lecture halls in Ireland, Scotland, and the United States. His research interests include Irish and international poetry, particularly the sense of place, and the relationship between poetry, theology and philosophy. He has published articles on Shamanism in the work of Derek Walcott, and the Sense of Place in the work of Martin Heidegger and Michael Longley.

Fergus Cronin (appointed 2017)
Fergus worked initially in the 1970’s as a performer with The Children’s T-Company and other theatre companies. He moved on to a twenty-five year career in Water Treatment Engineering including 15 years as MD/Company owner of a sizeable contracting company based in Kilkenny. Fergus retired in 2004 to become self-employed and set up Spool Communications Ltd (with partner and wife Maureen Kennelly) to undertake consulting work in the media and arts sectors. Fergus returned also, after many years, to perform in and produce a few theatre projects. He was an Irish Times Theatre Awards judge in 2013 and 2014 as well as founder member and first Chairman of Kilkenny Educate Together primary school. He engaged extensively in community development and cultural organisations in Kilkenny. Fergus has served on several Boards of Directors, such as Kilkenny Arts Festival and Team Educational Theatre Company. Currently Chairperson of Kilkenny Industrial Development Company, he currently divides his time between Connemara and Dublin and continues to work professionally with a small number of companies and spends a good deal of time writing fiction.

Tadhg O'Sullivan (appointed 2017)
Tadhg O’Sullivan is a filmmaker and sound artist living in Carlow, Ireland. His self-produced directorial work includes films for the Arts Council (Ireland), Al Jazeera English, Channel 4 (UK) and TG4 (Ireland). His film editing and sound design work spans a ten year career in a number of countries, ranging from experimental shorts to feature films.
Working within the documentary and experimental film traditions his work often explores the relationships between individuals and societal structures of power. His first feature film “Yximalloo” (co-directed with Feargal Ward) has shown at numerous international film festivals, winning the Prix Premiere at FiD Marseille in 2014. He received the Arts Council of Ireland’s Film Bursary in 2015.

PH:DOX Copenhagen (2016)
DocPoint, Helsinki (2016)
FiD Marseille (2016)
Docufest Kosovo (2016)
MoMA Documentary Fortnight (2016)
Dublin IFF (2015)

Brendan Dowling (appointed 2018)
Brendan Dowling is the Founder and CEO of Consumer Data Protection, the world’s first Consumer Data Protection (CDP) cloud solution, that allows Consumers take control of their personal data and relationships with Enterprise, while allowing Enterprise to freely engage with Consumers, across various communications channels, while being compliant with the latest Data Protection legislation (GDPR).
Brendan is a serial technology entrepreneur in the telecoms and media industry, having built and exited a number of internationally traded companies, such as imagine mobile (the first MVNO) and DVM (one of the first mobile digital content stores).
Brendan is well known for his thought leadership on technology innovation and is a regular speaker at conferences, business schools and government sponsored events.Brendan has been an Executive Coach to CEO’s to scaling companies in Ireland and the UK and has worked with Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI, on Executive programmes helping their top companies to accelerate their growth. He is the author of “Accelerating Company Growth”, a practical book for CEO’s to help them scale their companies faster. Brendan is a member of the Global Irish Economic Forum.
Brendan qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG Dublin (FCA), worked with PWC London, before becoming a serial entrepreneur for over 30 years. Brendan holds an MBA from UCD, a B. Comm from UCC and a Diploma in Executive Coaching from UCC / IMI.

VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art and the George Bernard Shaw Theatre

Registered in Ireland – Company No: 403432

Registered Office: County Offices, Athy Road, Carlow

Strategic Plan:

The Company’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021 can be downloaded here.

Annual Report 2017:

In 2017, VISUAL achieved some significant milestones, with achievements and activities including:

• Publication of our Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021
• Increase of 7% in Theatre and events audiences to 31,314
• Increase of 14% in VISUAL’s share of gross Box Office income
• Over €103,000 paid out as event proceeds to local performance groups during the year. 
• Retention of 2016 Arts Council programme funding amount
• Sustainability of 39 full-time and part-time jobs throughout the activities of the Centre.
• Spin-out economic effects, including approx. 350 local bed nights for visiting performers and crews

Social inclusion was a key focus, with 35% of theatre ticket sales going to targeted social groups, and partnerships to develop inclusive access with the National Council for the Blind, Carlow Integration Forum and Equinox Theatre Company. Our previous work in progress workshops with Equinox Theatre company culminated in the world premiere of M-House as part of the Join In Festival. The two performances sold extremely well and local service users from Delta, Rehab and St Lazerians attended the matinee relaxed performance. We also provided supported work placements with Rehab Care during the year.

We continued to support practitioners through commissioning new work, through payment of fair artists fees and through sharing of resources. We supported successful applications for Arts Council Project Funding Awards by artists Dennis McNulty and Michelle Browne, and continued our supportive relationship with Dance Artist Emma Martin.  We also gave practical support via work space, technical advice and creative feedback to 7 artists in the region, and 5 local groups. We provided support for two Creative Ireland Samhain projects providing workshops for young people, by Carlow Youth Theatre and Aspiro Choir.

We continued to build on developing engagement in the arts through programming. In 2017 notable engagement projects included:
• Research project: with DIT School of Architecture 4th years, looking at the architectural structure and use of Carlow Town Centre, as part of our conversation around articipatory planning
• Research project: with IT Carlow designCORE with product design students, looking at behaviours and attitudes to Carlow Town Centre and identifying issues and potential design solutions, as part of our conversation around participatory planning
• Graphic Design project: with Waterford IT Graphic design students, plus a 6 week internship.
• Carlow Town Narrative Project: in partnership with designCORE ITC, supported by the Heritage Council, Creative ireland Carlow, Carlow Chamber of Commerce, Carlow PPN and Carlow County Council and facilitated by Studio Weave, developing a new narrative for Carlow Town through public participation.
• Join In Festival:  in partnership with Carlow Library, with activities including Play Day with Carlow Sports Partnership, teen and family activities. 1100 people attended events over the 4 days.
• Playtime Symposium: A day of talks and workshops on play, its relationship to culture and a child’s right to creative play. Speakers included Adrian Voce OBE, Gabriela Burkhalter, Kunsthalle Zurich, Debbie Clarke Dublin City Council, Dr. Tim Stott DIT. The day included a play-based workshop by artists Rhona Byrne and Tom Watt.
• This Thumping Heart: Performance choreographed by Dance Artist in Residence Emma Martin with participants from Carlow Regional Youth Services and Carlow Youth Orchestra, co-produced with Carlow Arts Festival. This performance, which received a standing ovation and attracted an audience of 140, was the culmination of Dancehall Youth, initiated by VISUAL in 2015 in partnership with Carlow Regional Youth Services.
• IFI Local Films for Local People: an evening programme of films about Carlow or by Carlow film makers, taken from the IFI archives, programmed in partnership with Carlow Arts Festival
• You Can’t Feel What You Feel: Investigating themes of empathy, sensation and connection to place, artist Yvonne McGuinness worked with Carlow Youth Theatre members to create a performance intervention for VISUAL’s gallery spaces,  Commissioned by VISUAL in response to the Summer season’s themes.
• Sun Trap: In response to the Spring and Summer themes, Tom Watt created a gathering space on VISUAL’ s front steps which remained until Oct 2017.
• Residencies: We supported Emma Martin to continue her dance residency funded by the Arts Council
• Materials Library: Anthropologist Juliette Harvey was commissioned to research the work of Paul Mosse and develop a Materials Library for the exhibition in collaboration with VISUAL
• HUDDLE: we supported an artists discussion and reading group devised and led by artist Saidhbhin Gibson
• CIFET Partnership: Visual art, design and communications students had talks and workshops with both Paul Mosse and Dennis McNulty during the Autumn season, and made work in response, which was displayed in the reception area of VISUAL.
• Digital Carlow: We partnered with the Local Enterprise Office to deliver two artist-led digital creativity programmes for primary and secondary schools. 10 primary schools and two secondary schools participated.
We continued to work in local partnership in ways that develop social capital, creativity and innovation, with partners including Cultivate, Happy Carlow, Carlow Women’s Network, Carlow PPN, the Local Enterprise Office and Carlow Youth Theatre. We developed a new Transition Year engagement programme, new Senior Cycle student programmes, and we partnered with the Local Enterprise Office in the delivery of Digital Carlow. We continue to support creativity in young people through hosting Carlow Youth Theatre in permanent residence, through our weekly Parent and Toddler art classes and through our commitment to having a free drop-in art space for families throughout the year.

We continued to develop VISUAL’s sustainability. Since 2013, Arts Council annual programme funding to VISUAL has increased by 81%. In 2017, programme funding was also achieved from the Heritage Council and Creative Ireland. Although the financial statements display an annual loss in the year of €573,562, the directors believe it is worth highlighting the effect of significant non-cash expenses being incurred annually that we believe distort the underlying trading performance of VISUAL. On elimination of depreciation, deemed interest (now applied under the Companies Act clause FR102) and capital grant amortisation, VISUAL achieved a manageable loss of €18,466. This was accomplished against the backdrop of a €90,000 reduction in County Council core funding in the year. Based on the scale of the achievements of the company, the directors are satisfied with the underlying financial performance in 2017 and continue to strive for efficiencies and savings so as to ensure continued value for money into 2018 and beyond.
We have continued to champion Carlow as a creative and innovative space, with numerous national press and radio features on different aspects of our activities. In total there were 9 national press features, 2 TV features and three national radio features. VISUAL was called ‘the coolest arts centre outside of Dublin’ by Lizzie Fairrie in The Times. President Michael D Higgins attended a performance in VISUAL in 2017, the Arts Council chose VISUAL as the venue for the final event of their inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction, Anne Enright, and the Assistant Secretary for the Department of Arts, Heritage, Region, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs visited to see the space. Additionally, VISUAL became the first Irish institution to be selected to participate in Tate Intensive, an annual international development programme for art institutions and professionals.

The Company Secretary who served throughout the year was Michael Brennan.

The Directors and Company Secretary hold no interests in the company’s issued share capital.


The company has adopted the Governance Transparency Scale and is compliant with the standards as set out therein.

The Company is in compliance with the recommended guidelines for financial reporting including adjustment for FRS102, and files annual accounts with the CRO.

The Company is on a path to compliance with the Governance Code for community, voluntary and charitable organisations in Ireland. We confirm that a review of our organisation’s compliance with the principles in the Code was conducted in 2015. This review was based on an assessment of our organisational practice against the recommended actions for each principle. The review sets out actions and completion dates for any issues that the assessment identifies need to be addressed.

The Company has annual updated policies in place regarding Health and Safety, Dignity at Work, Child Protection, Employment, Equality and Data Protection.

Audited accounts for 2017 are available here.