Culture vultures take first bite out of the Big Apple
'Culture Night' is spreading its wings as far afield as New York and Belgium.
Yesterday saw the launch of the seventh annual 'Culture Night', which is aimed at promoting the arts to people who would not normally step over the threshold of a museum.
Museums, galleries and other arts venues will stay open late and throw open their doors for free on September 24.
It has almost doubled in size since last year with events to take place in New York, Belgium and the Gaeltacht during an evening that is expected to attract 500,000 people.
The scheme was launched by the Temple Bar Cultural Trust in 2004 and quickly gathered pace to attract the record amount of places that will take part this year, including Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, Sligo, Mayo, Wicklow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Westmeath, Letterkenny, Kerry, Carlow, Leitrim and Roscommon.
Temple Bar Cultural Trust chief executive Dermot McLaughlin said the initiative took off in 2006 when other towns and counties noticed the success of the free scheme in Dublin.
It is estimated about 240,000 people took part across 11 areas last year. Three out of every four people said they would not normally go to these events, said Mr McLaughlin.
"It appeals to people who are curious and adventurous about what exactly is out there. It promotes a positive image of what is available on your doorstep. It is Ireland showing itself off to itself," he said.
This will be the first year that international venues, such as the Irish centres in New York and Belgium, will take part.
Events will also be held in Gaeltacht areas for the first time. Micheal McGee from arts organisation Ealain na Gaeltachta said this would bring Irish events in these areas a national profile.
"Often the Irish language has been ghettoised. Culture Night allows us to showcase on a level footing with the English language," he said.