The South Tipperary Arts Centre project arose out of the need for co-ordination in the Arts in the South Tipperary region and was put into development in Spring 1994. Initial discussions and proposals were made by a publicly elected Steering Committee. At this point Tipperary S.R. County Council and Clonmel Corporation announced their intention to provide a building in Nelson Street, Clonmel.
In December 1994 South Tipperary Arts Centre was incorporated as a non-profit company limited by guarantee and held its inaugural meeting in May 1995 to elect a voluntary Board of Directors chaired by Kathleen Maher, President of Clonmel Chamber of Commerce. The elected members included both amateur and professional artists. Legal and business experts and representatives of Tipperary S.R. County Council and Clonmel Corporation were appointed to the board at this time.
The Arts Centre building in Nelson Street, was originally a CIE Bus Station and in more recent years was used by Clonmel Credit Union. The refurbishment of the building aimed to provide a high quality visual arts gallery, multi-purpose workshop space, administrative offices and an information desk/booking office. The Centre was officially opened on April 19th, 1996.
Approximately 13 visual arts exhibitions are held at the Centre each year; the Centre hosts Cluain Meala Writers’ Group, South Tipperary Arts Group and the AC Music Club all of whom hold regular meetings in the workshop space. The Centre also has Spring, Summer and Autumn/Winter Educational programmes, which include wide-ranging classes and workshops in various art forms for adults and children.
Realising that the Centre could only go a certain distance in providing for the needs of the community from its premises in Clonmel, the Centre recruited an Outreach and Educational Officer in 1998 and concentrated resources on an Outreach programme which initiated projects across the South Tipperary region. Included in these were the setting up of Youth Theatres in Clonmel and Cahir and a host of community projects including classes, workshops and mural projects.
In order to aid the professionalisation of activities, in 2000 the Centre recruited an Administrator and in 2001, a Music Officer. The Music Officer operates the South Tipperary Young Musicians Trust, which operates under the umbrella of the Arts Centre, as part of his brief as well as organising contemporary and classical musical events. Also operating from the Centre is the quarterly START magazine, the independent arts and cultural magazine for the area.
The Centre receives funding from The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, Tipperary South Riding County Council, FÁS, Clonmel Corporation and various public and private sources.