It's going to be a new era for the beloved Irish Arts Center when it opens its brand new 21,700-square-foot $60 million building this December.
Located at 726 11th Avenue, formerly the adjacent city-owned property and Cybert Tire building, the new hub will open with a "monumental" inaugural season of programming, a flexible theater, café and more.
The Irish Arts Center had been planning on building the new space back in 2006 when it acquired the lot with hopes of being able to offer even more cultural activities than it has in its "humble" three-story tenement at 553 West 51st Street.
Designed by New York-based architects Davis Brody Bond (which was behind the National September 11 Museum and The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center) and consultation and support from Ireland’s Office of Public Works, the space includes a theater designed by Fisher Dachs Associates, who designed The Shed and the Park Avenue Armory with acoustic design by Jaffe Holden Acoustics (known for work at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center and The Juilliard School), that will serve as a site for theater, dance, music, visual arts, interdisciplinary work, residencies, and special events.
There's also a new studio for classes, rehearsals, and community gatherings, an intimate, "warmly appointed" library classroom and patron lounge as well as an atrium bordered by the former Cybert Tire building’s interior historic brick façade with a showcase of artworks.
For visitors to the building, they'll get to enjoy a big ground-floor café operated by Hell’s Kitchen's Ardesia with furniture by Irish craft furniture designer Orior made with authentic Irish materials repurposed in a modern aesthetic—the bar counter is made of wood from a century-old walnut tree.
With a brand new space for programming, the Center will offer a selection of front-row tickets for grabs at no more than $25 to each performance during its inaugural season (December 2021-2022). There will also be a new $50 discounted membership program and some scholarships for class fees.
Looking forward, these are some highlights of upcoming shows and programs to look forward to at the Irish Arts Center:
Camille O’Sullivan: Where Are We Now?
December 4–31, 2021
Camille O’Sullivan captures the madness of our world, and the redemption in our coming together again, with an unforgettable musical and emotional journey to mark this extraordinary moment.
Backed by a world-class ensemble of musicians, including longtime collaborator Feargal Murray on piano, Camille’s rhapsodic interpretations of an eclectic assembly of songs from iconic New York and Irish songwriters asks—as we turn the page on a new chapter—Where Are We Now?
February 7, March 14, April 11, September 12, October 10, and November 14, 2022
With a name that harks back to a late 1800s New York vaudeville act, this beloved moveable feast of an event—from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and songwriter Paul Muldoon—combines music, prose fiction, poetry, high commentary, and low comedy, brought to you by an evolving lineup of world-class guests and house band Rogue Oliphant. Presented for the first time in IAC’s adaptable, state-of-the-art new performance venue, the artist-curated omnium-gatherum concocted at IAC 11 seasons ago continues to bring its mix of joyful casualness and breathtaking artistry to the NYC arts landscape.
Manchán Magan: Arán & Im
April 1–3, 2022
Arán & Im is a theatrical performance/installation in which the writer and documentary maker Manchán Magan bakes sourdough bread for 70 minutes while offering insights into the wonders of the Irish language—exploring potent words of landscape, terms of intuition and insight, and the many phrases that bring to life the mysterious glory of our natural world. It is a celebration of language, land
and local Irish food, with freshly baked traditional sourdough bread for the audience to slice and spread with butter they churn themselves from Irish cream.
13th Annual PoetryFest
December 1-4, 2022
Brimming with verse and conversation, PoetryFest has for 13 years brought “literary revelry” (The New Yorker) to Irish Arts Center audiences and word-lovers across New York. Curated by Nick Laird with guest curator Katie Raissian, the weekend-long PoetryFest is a haven away from our world of fast online verbiage, celebrating the value of sitting and listening to words written with sharpened care, intent, and nuance—by vanguard artists carrying Irish and North American poetic traditions into the future.
The Space We Occupy:
December 4, 2021-May 22, 2022
In a multi-media activation of the public realms of 726 11th Avenue, six artists representing the breadth and depth of contemporary Irish visual art use installation, photography, print and drawing, as well as paint and plaster—the physical materials of the building’s renovation—to mark the opening of the New Irish Arts Center and invite the viewer to consider the space we occupy during our short time on Earth.
March 13, 2022
On this year’s annual, free Open Day, visitors can enter a whole new Irish Arts Center: an institution transformed, with their new building, in its capacity to entertain, inform, explore, and amaze, but still to its core the same warm, hospitable center. Join IAC this St. Patrick’s season for this special Open Day, activating its space through live music and dance, crafts, educational workshops, and more—to get a sample of its bounteous new possibilities for celebrating Irish and Irish American culture.
10th Annual Book Day
March 17, 2022
IAC is thrilled to honor the cherished tradition of Irish storytelling on St. Patrick’s Day this year with a very special Book Day devoted to James Joyce’s singular, and singularly influential, novel Ulysses. Celebrating the tome’s 100th anniversary, and continuing Book Day’s tradition of recognizing the breadth of Irish literature alongside that of other cultures, this year’s event will also honor Jewish authors from around the world, in tribute to Ulysses’ iconic Jewish protagonist, Leopold Bloom. As always, IAC’s volunteers and staff, sponsors, and supporters—along with its partners at the New York City Council—across all five boroughs will hand out thousands of free books. Books in Spanish and other translation provided by partners Literature Ireland.
19th Annual Dance and Music Festival
June 11, 2022
In celebration of National Immigrant Heritage Month, Irish Arts Center, in partnership with the Center of Traditional Music and Dance, invites dancers and musicians from communities across the city to help the organization throw its annual fête, the traditional kick-off event of NYC’s Summer-on-the-Hudson event series. Join IAC in Riverside Park for a free day of performances, sessions, céilís, crafts, workshops, and cultural activities.
Oíche Shamhna/An Irish Halloween
October 30, 2022
In this by-turns spooky and heartwarming evening of folklore and fun, delve into the ancient autumnal tradition of Oíche Shamhna, the eve of Samhain, across which bonfires lit the land orange and our world was believed to open to the realm of spirits, allowing departed loved ones to join the living. Play age-old Irish Halloween games and learn about the origins of Trick-or-treating, dressing in costume, and carving a jack-o’-lantern (originally a turnip)—and do all of the above.
The Irish Arts Center's new home will open at 726 11th Avenue in December.