The art of running a theatre

Although Gemma Carcaterra was steeped in theatre from an early age, the artistic director and CEO of Glór in Ennis, Co Clare, was more interested in working behind the scenes than in performing. 

The art of running a theatre

She was born in Wolverhampton in the UK, where her parents run a theatre company. “But I got off it fairly quickly,” says Carcaterra.

“I was, first of all, interested in theatre, but also in the arts in general. I enjoyed being an artist, be it doing illustrations, drawing and also ceramics and furniture design.” Carcaterra completed a BA in applied arts at Derby University, specialising in furniture design, followed by an MA in industrial design at Birmingham University, with the focus on visitor attractions and museum exhibitions. She was then account manager for a company looking after the design and build of two major exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum. The museum commissioned Aidan Dooley to take part in the ‘South’ exhibition.

“Tom Crean — Antarctic Explorer came out of that, touring internationally,” she says.

After being made redundant in 2003, Carcaterra and her Irish husband moved to New Zealand and then Australia, followed by six months in Asia. “When I was in Australia, I helped out at an art gallery in Darwin. They have phenomenal weather during the dry season, so lots of exhibitions were held outside, very different to here. In Asia, I was interested in how visitor attractions are developed. Cambodia and Vietnam are completely set up for tourists.”

Carcetarra and her husband then moved to Ireland. Carcaterra was appointed the general manager of Daghdha Dance (now Dance Limerick). She joined Glór three years ago. Its theatre can hold 537 people, and it also has an exhibition space and a cafe. “It’s primarily funded as a venue. We get the national touring acts performing here. They like our theatre space, which has flexible seating. Over the last year, we had people like Christy Moore and Nathan Carter here. Our audience is predominantly from Co Clare and the mid-west. But, for some events, people come all the way from Dublin. Things like the Ennis Book Club Festival and the Fleadh Nua bring people in from all over.”

Glór employs five, and 39 part-timers, who are all programme-dependent. “Some people might only be with us during busy times,” says Carcaterra. Glór is funded by Clare County Council. Other funding sources are the Arts Council, corporate sponsorship and individual membership.

“There’s a lot of local businesses that look after us very well. They see the value of having a venue in Ennis as an attraction for County Clare,” she says.

Glór says it contributes €850,000 to the local economy. It has an annual turnover of €1.25m. It is a platform for 54 community and charity organisations in Ennis.

“I have experience from different angles. I like being able to facilitate artists and to help make things happen for them. That’s why I enjoy Glór so much. It’s so multi-disciplinary and there are so many different directions we can go in. The theatre is the main thing, but there are all the subsidiaries around that, as well.”

Carcaterra says that Glór is slowly coming out of the recession. “We’re streamlined to within an inch of our lives. If anything goes wrong, we have to try and find money. But that’s the same in all venues. I’m optimistic for 2015.”

  • Galway traditional singer, Seán Keane, brings his ‘Christmas by the Hearth’ musical show to Glór on Friday

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