“Dublin belongs to the people, we own the city.”

 

A few days ago a 15 minute-long documentary appeared on RTÉ Player, featuring a slew of familiar faces in Dublin’s creative realm. ‘Cranes vs Creatives’ was released as part of a new series on the streaming site called Docland. Through this series topics like art in the city, gay conversion therapy and the Lolita fashion movement will be explored. For this edition though, the film crew follows figures representing from The Bernard Shaw, The Dublin Flea Market, Dublin Digital Radio and Club Comfort.

“With hotels and student accommodation being built on every corner are we in danger of losing the heart of the city and the people that make it so vibrant and unique?”

That’s the question posed and this documentary gives a voice to the people who are directly affected by the ‘greying’ of Ireland’s capital.

We caught up with Director and Producer of the film Clare McQuaid to find out more. Watch ‘Cranes vs Creatives’ below.

Everyone involved in the creative/club/art/music scene in Dublin is painfully aware of the issues raised in this documentary, but was the idea of bringing this to the national broadcaster to highlight it for people less immersed?

This would be a very bleak conversation except for the fact that everyone we spoke to was involved in activism or campaigning for change. The Dublin Flea Market is actively lobbying Dublin City Council, the petition to save the Bernard Shaw has over 24,000 signatures and Robbie Kitt has been a vocal campaigner for Give Us the Night. Sometimes we find out about change when it is too late and the battle is lost. If more people are aware of the dangers threatening the cultural life of the city, then we have a greater chance of putting pressure on policy-makers. This was part of the thinking when making ‘Cranes vs Creatives’ for Docland, the new online documentary series. Knowing that it was being aired on RTÉ meant that it would have the potential to reach people from all walks of life. It’s not about sitting back; everyone has to do whatever they can to keep this city alive, vibrant and for the people.

Was there anything you learned or discovered from creating the film?

The creative community in Ireland has always been strong. There is immense talent and we can match our international contemporaries every day of the week. The problem is that they are not being supported and as much as we love to present Ireland’s artistic accomplishments to the world, we are not doing enough to support those industries at home. There is a generation of talented people living in their parents’ houses because they cannot afford the rents, they cannot afford a work space and their creativity is being squeezed. We are losing these incredibly talented people to other countries not because they want to leave, but because they cannot make a living in Ireland. In the last few years, particularly with our referenda, Irish people have found a new confidence to fight for their rights. I can’t see any of these people sitting down and letting their city change without a fight.

There’s a nice cross section of people interviewed, but there’s definitely a sharp focus on music and club culture, why was that important for you?

Club culture is culture. We need to protect small and medium spaces where people can gather, experiment and express themselves. It is a very worrying trend when some of the key venues in the city are demolished and not replaced. That is not something that can be reversed, we’ve lost them. If that happens over and over again in a small city like Dublin, then we have a serious problem. Similarly we need to address the licensing laws that prevent nights like Club Comfort from accessing venues in the city centre. Although they have a smaller community of club goers, they have just as much right to have a space in the city.

Is there a call to action people can take from this film? How can people help stop the “grey seeping in” as Johnny Brennan puts it in the doc?

Dublin belongs to the people, we own the city. Anyone can get involved in the conversation, whether that’s signing a petition, writing to your politicians or taking to the streets to march. The city officials work for us so we have to express our wishes and concerns if real change is to happen.

There’s a real freshness about this short film, is this indicative of RTÉ’s direction with the Player/Digital Streaming?

Docland is a new short online documentary strand coming out of the RTÉ Documentary unit. The main aim is to tell stories; there will never be presenters or experts on screen telling you what to think. This is all about real people telling their story and giving them a voice and a platform to share their experiences. Visually, we want to maintain a really high standard and always be truthful to the story.

Words: Eric Davidson / Main Photo: Johnny Brennan 
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