Wednesday, 20 October 2004

Questions (61, 62)

Jack Wall

Question:

156 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has proposals to address the funding difficulties at the Abbey Theatre; his views on the possibility of staff redundancies at the theatre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25418/04]

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Seán Ryan

Question:

164 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the recent TNS-MRBI opinion poll which found strong support among the public for State funding for the Abbey Theatre; if he will address the funding problems at the theatre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25425/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 156 and 164 together.

I have been briefed on the problems currently being encountered at the Abbey Theatre by the chairperson of the Arts Council. Financial support of the Abbey is a matter for the Arts Council. I understand that the council has been in close dialogue with the Abbey and wishes to support the organisation through its current difficulties. The council is conducting an independent review to help inform the council's response. My Department's role is confined to the overall funding of the Arts Council, which itself decides how funds made available by my Department are disbursed. I am not in the least surprised by a positive public attitude towards the Abbey. The Abbey has an iconic place in the Irish psyche, in our cultural life, and I share the view that the Abbey must be cherished and supported.