Abbey Theatre losses hit €1.8m

A MAJOR redundancy programme at one of the country’s premier cultural venues last year resulted in the Abbey Theatre recording losses of €1.8 million.

The deterioration in the finances of ‘Abbey Theatre Amharclann Na Mainistreach’ last year is confirmed in new accounts which confirm that after recording a modest surplus of €56,485 in 2008, the venue’s losses to the end of December last totalled €1.8m.

The documents show the theatre company’s restructuring costs last year towards the redundancy programme amounted to €1.2m.

According to the company’s directors, the restructuring involving the “major redundancy programme” in response to “the severe cuts” in Arts Council’s grant aid funding to the Abbey declining by 28% in the space of three years from €10m to €7.2m this year.

The restructuring plan was not agreed between the Abbey Theatre and unions until January before the Labour Relations Commission (LRC).

The Abbey Theatre’s director of finance Declan Cantwell said yesterday that the restructuring involved 20 redundancies and an average pay cut of 5% across the organisation.

He said yesterday: “It is been a very tough period for the Abbey Theatre. The staff have made huge sacrifices and the redundancies and the pay cuts have been particularly painful.”

Mr Cantwell said most of the restructuring, which also includes more flexible work practices, is now complete.

Branch organiser of the Irish Equity Group at SIPTU, Des Courtney said yesterday: “We are pragmatic and the cuts that have been made have secured the jobs that remain and that is the most important thing.”

Mr Courtney confirmed that the pay cuts at the Abbey – where 151 were employed at the end of last year – range from 11% for those earning over €100,000 on a graded basis down to cuts of 1.5% to those earning between €21,000 and €30,000.

Mr Courtney said that the LRC deal provides for the Abbey’s financial position being reviewed next summer. Mr Cantwell said the restructuring has provided savings of €1m per annum to the company.


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