Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Arts & Culture Niamh Smyth has called on Minister Josepha Madigan to engage with artists and management of the Abbey Theatre after concern was expressed about the co-producing model which has been adopted in recent years.

More than 300 Irish artists wrote to the Minister to outline their concerns, claiming the new model which has been implemented by management has led to fewer actors being directly employed by the theatre and fewer in-house productions.

Deputy Smyth said, “The Abbey Theatre is our national theatre and has always had a strong tradition of nurturing and promoting Irish artists and actors.  Many of our leading playwrights and actors had their work performed on its stage and the Abbey name has become synonymous with the Irish cultural brand.

“Any attempts to dilute this should be avoided, and while I recognise the improvement in the financial situation at the theatre, Irish artists should not be side-lined by our national theatre.

“I welcome the fact that management has offered to engage with artist representatives, however I am disappointed by Minister Madigan’s hands-off approach.  It is unacceptable for her to stand on the sidelines and act as if she is merely a commentator in a debate – she is the Minister with responsibility for the area.

“Artists are deeply frustrated with the current situation – even Ruth Negga, who is one of the Minister’s recently appointed Cultural Ambassadors, signed the letter.

“The Abbey Theatre has a long and proud history of cultivating and encouraging Irish artists.  The Minister must ensure that that approach is maintained and I am urging her to engage with both sides to ensure that our national theatre continues to support Irish interests”.