Money crisis threatens future of Tipp’s Excel Centre
Report will decide if it has to close

A consultant’s report into the financial state of Tipp’s Excel Centre will determine if the Excel has a future or not. The report, commissioned this week and due to be delivered to South Tipperary County Council by June 1, will be vital to the centre’s survival.

A consultant’s report into the financial state of Tipp’s Excel Centre will determine if the Excel has a future or not.

The report, commissioned this week and due to be delivered to South Tipperary County Council by June 1, will be vital to the centre’s survival.

The community based arts centre, open since May 2001, has been under financial strain in recent years, with an annual running cost of €200,000.

According to South Tipperary County Council chairman Michael Fitzgeald, the centre could now be faced with closure if a more stable financial situation is not found.

“There have been ongoing problems for some time, and it was raised at the last meeting of the county council by Cllr Denis Leahy,” Cllr Fitzgerald said.

“The board has been doing tremendous work over the years, it hasn’t been easy to do that and they find now it is harder to keep the show on the road.”

In the wake of that meeting the county council’s Tipperary area councillors, along with officials Director of Services Sinead Carr and head of finance Ken Conway, met with the board of the Excel.

The council agreed to appoint an independent consultant to “go into the Excel and look at how it’s working. To see what can be done to make it viable,” Cllr Fitzgerald explained to The Nationalist.

The Excel is struggling to keep up with bank debt repayments as well as having difficulty with the day-to-day cash flow, estimated at €200,000 a year.

No information was given on the extent of financial losses being made by the centre.

Cllr Fitzgerald said he hopes the situation can be improved and the centre made viable.

Acknowledging that communities across the county are struggling to keep sports centres and community halls going, he appealed to groups to do their part to support the centre.

“The Excel is state of the art but it is just not getting the support it needs,” he said.

“The independent consultant will be put in place to determine if the Excel has a future or not. When that report comes back we will have to sit down in the cold light of day, take everything into consideration and see can anything be done.

“That report is going to be vital to the survival of the Excel. I hope it has a future, if not Tipperary will be poorer without the facility.”

Last week Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD, attended an art launch at the Excel and spoke to local representatives who made him aware of the situation. While he was sympathetic, his department is not able to help, according to Cllr Fitzgerald.

The Excel Centre includes the Simon Ryan Theatre and cinema, exhibition gallery space, tourist information and family research facilities, the Treasure Chest gift shop and the French Quarter Cafe. It is also currently hosting Tipperary District Court, while the courthouse is closed for repairs.