Abbey Theatre's funding frozen over complaints from actors and directors

The Arts Council has said it has frozen €300,000 in funding to the Abbey Theatre, after a large number of actors and directors penned a letter of complaint about how the theatre is being run.

Over 300 people signed the letter addressed to the Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan, criticising the direction taken by the Abbey since the appointment of its Directors Neil Murray and Graham McLaren in January 2017.

The letter, according to reports, claims the Abbey's new approach of co-producing a number of plays, and its increased number of international productions, has meant Irish actors, playwrights, directors, designers and agents have suffered a reduced chance of employment, and reduced income.

The letter's signatories include many high-profile names, including Aidan Gillen, Sinéad Cusack and Ciarán Hinds.

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In response to the complaints, the Arts Council has withheld €300,000 worth of funding from the Abbey, awaiting reassurance from the theatre that employment opportunities and payment standards are met.

In a statement, the Council said:

“In recent months the Arts Council has sought assurances from the National Theatre as to the quality of employment opportunities it provides for Irish based artists, including remuneration at Abbey rates.

"The Abbey is now required to evidence the range and nature of these opportunities. As with all Arts Council funding, support to the Abbey in 2019 will be based on a funding agreement. €300,000 has been withheld pending confirmation that these conditions have been met.”

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