Fianna Fáil Arts Spokesperson Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD has added his voice to calls for the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre to be retained in public ownership. Deputy Ó Fearghaíl’s intervention comes as reports emerge that the key venue will be sold at a heavy discount on what was spent to develop the Daniel Libeskind designed facility.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl commented, “The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is an important part of the live arts scene in our capital city. With some bold decisions now, it can become an even more important part of our national arts scene in the future.
“Just last month, a major study into attendance at live theatre events in London showed that over the course of twelve months, significantly more people attended live theatre events in London than attended the entire premiership football season over the same period (22 million –v- 13 million). This demonstrates the enormous potential in the sector and suggests to me that rather than selling off this fantastic venue at an enormous loss, we should be exploring ways to retain it in Irish public ownership, continue to develop the programme of events that has been doing so well there under the management of Live Nation and formerly Harry Crosbie, while also leveraging public ownership to make the venue a hub for the development of successful indigenous Irish theatre and musical theatre projects.
“In Fianna Fáil’s view, we should be looking at how to generate the maximum national benefit from the fact that this building is now in public ownership through NAMA, rather than looking only at how to release some quick cash from the building.
“I am writing to both the Arts Minister Heather Humphreys and the Finance Minister Michael Noonan to ask for the withdrawal of the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from the current fire sale and the establishment of a review on the future of the building. I believe that the wider arts community should also be involved in this review, including the neighbouring National Academy of Dramatic Arts at The Lir, the National Theatre at The Abbey and RTÉ Performing Groups.
“There is a window of opportunity here for some bold and creative thinking and I would call on Government to seize it.”