This piece was written during my Journalism Masters project and appeared in the 

Exchange Dublin to ‘gradually reopen’ as volunteers expect return of keys


THE VOLUNTEERS OF Exchange Dublin, the free collective arts space whose doors were closed last February due to alleged anti-social behaviour, are set to receive back keys to the building.

This comes after over two months of talks between the volunteers of Exchange Dublin and members of the Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT), now part of Dublin City Council.

John Durkan of the TBCT has said that the reopening of the space will depend on the correction of several “operational issues”.

He said: “They have acknowledged that there were issues, and there is a willingness there to change.”

Exchange Dublin, which was set up as a free-from-alcohol event space for young people and artists, claim that many of the demands made by TBCT have already been met, such as registering as a charity with the Revenue Commission.

“A lot of the demands are very reasonable,” says Conor McQuillan, a volunteer and secretary of the Exchange. “But some of them are already in place.”

Exchange Dublin has been a registered charity for three years. Others issues which are to be addressed involve the training of volunteers to cope with banning former members who TCBT claim contributed to the perceived anti-social behaviour.

The Cultural Trust claimed that the problems in the area stemmed from the behaviour of some of those attending the events at the property.

At the time of the closure, a spokesperson told that there was an “upsurge in anti-social behaviour including a serious assault, drug use and noise issues”.

Today, McQuillan said: “We have no problem dealing with most of these things… it would all be of immense benefit for us, but the City Council have told us we have to find the money.”

The costs of fulfilling some of the criteria, such as formally retraining volunteers, could be a barrier to reopening.

McQuillan hopes that, once reopened to the public, the space will be able to facilitate the large variety of groups who once used the facilities.

“Most events have been cancelled, but some have found other spaces. I heard a DIT photography class had an exhibition in the Culture Box, which only ran for one night. If Exchange had been open they would have been able to run for ten nights.”

McQuillan has said he has been told by members of the TBCT that he will have the keys to the premises within two weeks, but has yet to have been given a concrete date as to when Exchange will be once again open to the public.

“Although the volunteers of the Exchange may receive the keys soon, a return to its previous capacities will not come until after a three to four month period,” he explained.

This will give us time to look and see where we are. It will be a gradual opening, and will allow us to build back up the activity level, hopefully to an even better standard than before.

Volunteers and users have expressed the importance of Exchange Dublin, and a petition was signed by more than 2,000 people to ask the authorities to keep the space open.