Opera House to put UCC’s name in lights as part of €600k partnership

A creative partnership is set to see University College Cork’s name in lights in new signage over Cork Opera House from next year.

It is understood around €600,000 is being paid by UCC as part of the deal that will see large Toyota signs on the Cork Opera House roof replaced after around 30 years. It is understood both the venue name and university branding will feature in the new signs, and the agreement will help fund improved disability access at the venue.

Cork Opera House has already described the planned collaboration as a first in Ireland. In documents submitted to Cork City Council on the proposed signage changes, it said the deal would enable new possibilities for both culture and education, although UCC was not directly named.

In response to Irish Examiner inquiries, a joint statement said both sides are “exploring entering an academic and cultural partnership which will enrich the two institutions and the city”.

While contracts have yet to be agreed and planning permission is pending, they said details would be announced at a formal launch “in the near future”.

The council granted permission for the sign changes last Monday, although there is a chance of appeals delaying or preventing final approval. A submission to planners last month on behalf of Cork Opera House described the proposal as a creative partnership.

“Cork Opera House will become a place where arts industry professionals will work alongside students and academics to share skills and research new models of creativity, sustainability, and learning,” states the submission.

As a UCC music graduate, Cork Opera House chief executive Eibhlín Gleeson has been building strong ties with her alma mater since taking the helm just over two years ago. She has addressed conferring ceremonies and was invited to speak at the launch of UCC’s latest strategic plan in September.

Cork Opera House was the venue last March when UCC’s Cork University Business School hosted a large conference, while UCC president Patrick O’Shea has strongly promoted humanities and creative arts since taking on the job last February.

UCC is a year into a three-year main sponsorship deal with Cork City FC that also provides player access to its Mardyke Arena complex.

Cork Opera House applied in August for planning permission to change signage over its fly tower that is visible from northern approaches to the city centre and along the quays of the River Lee’s north channel. Planners asked if corporate logos or advertising was proposed, or simply display of the building name, as planning policies ban illuminated advertising structures above eaves’ level of city buildings.

The Opera House has, separately, applied to take down and replace temporary signage on its large north wall that faces the river. It has acknowledged negative views about the blank concrete wall and wants to continue promoting its own events with large banners until budgets allow recladding.

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