The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, TD, has announced that, following consideration of the matter by the Government, it has been decided not to proceed with the re-location of the Abbey Theatre to the GPO complex.
The decision was taken after a Feasibility Study prepared by his Department and the Office of Public Works on the matter. The Feasibility Study will be published shortly on the website of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
This was a romantic notion held by the previous government and supported by number of other groups with the centenary of the 1916 rising approaching. Little thought had been given about the costs of installing a national theatre into fabric of the GPO. The real question of course is, does the Abbey Theatre need to be relocated at this time? Any such move would require a considerable outlay of funds. This funding inevitably would have to be found and other sectors of the Arts and as a direct result all those working in the arts would end up suffering for a considerable number of years. There are issues that need to be addressed in Abbey Theatre and in particularly at the Peacock which is less than an ideal with issues surrounding access for the disabled, but there are ways that can be addressed at a reasonable cost.
For the foreseeable future any thoughts of moving the Abbey should be dismissed, the minister would be better advised to ensure current funding level in all sectors of the arts are maintained. A shiny new National Theatre is not the best way to encourage more people to support the artsIf in the future re location is considered then a brown filed site would be a better choice.
Press release from the Minister Deenihan on re-location of Abbey Theatre to GPO – 18/06/2011 Minister Deenihan said: “This decision was taken on the basis of the very significant potential costs involved, as well as on grounds of technical complexity, historical appropriateness, planning, conservation and heritage issues. Other significant factors in the decision related to the tenure and relocation of existing tenants of the GPO complex, including An Post”. The Minister went on to say: “I will endeavour to ensure that the Abbey Theatre’s accommodation in its current location is maintained to a suitable standard. The intervention made a number of years ago in the Abbey auditorium was an excellent one and ongoing investment there has addressed front-of-house, box-office, staging and mechanical issues.” Ends.