Derry’s Verbal Arts Centre now seeking move to larger building

The Verbal Arts Centre is on the move from its current headquarters on Derry's historic walls.
The Verbal Arts Centre is on the move from its current headquarters on Derry's historic walls.

Derry’s Verbal Arts Centre is on the move as it embarks on the first steps towards becoming a National Centre of Storytelling.

The centre - currently located at the refurbished former First Derry School on the historic City Walls - is to relocate to a larger building which will play host to a range of large-scale events and projects planned for coming years.

Derry Mayor Martin Reilly recently announced a major feasibility study into a proposed national storytelling centre which will include an exhibition space, performance area and education and skills resources for all ages.

The Mayor described the centre plan as one of the “most exciting” initiatives of Derry’s City of Culture legacy project.

Verbal Arts Chief Executive James Kerr says the centre - which this year hosted several popular festivals - has outgrown its current premises.

“We absolutely love our home here in the old First Derry School,” says Mr Kerr. “We love the community that surrounds us. It will be a wrench to leave here.

“Our current site on the Walls at Bishop Street Within is bursting with activity and the building is no longer big enough to contain the range of activities or to allow us to flourish and develop further.

“The growth of the Verbal Arts Centre and the increasing demand for its services provide the backdrop against which a move to larger premises is a natural and necessary next step.

“We are already a centre of excellence in storytelling. From our ‘Crows on the Wire’ project to our storytelling festivals to our journalism department, we are a hub in Northern Ireland for everyone to tell their story.

“We are looking forward to seizing the opportunity of legacy development in the aftermath of the City of Culture year and are delighted that Derry City Council is backing us as we embark on the first step on this exciting journey.”

He says that, in moving forward with this feasibility study, Verbal will be encompassing the ambitions of Culture year to work towards becoming a National Centre of Storytelling.

Established as an educational charity in 1992, the Verbal Arts Centre moved in 2000 to its premises in the refurbished First Derry School.

The Centre works to promote language, celebrate commonality and diversity, develop knowledge, understanding and excellence in creation, performance and critical practice across the verbal art forms, together with research, publication and information provision.

The centre is also behind ‘Verbal Magazine’ - Ireland’s largest free literary magazine.