Nearly €1m in public funds for ‘private’ Gate Theatre

The Gate Theatre received €860,000 in public money in 2017, despite Taoiseach Leo Varadkar describing it as a “private body”.

Grace Dyas, the artist and activist who made public allegations of harassment against the theatre’s former director Michael Colgan, has written an open letter to Mr Varadkar about his remarks.

“I want to point out that while it might be a private body on paper, it is in receipt of €860,000, through the Arts Council. The Gate is a public institution, paid for by Irish citizens, through their taxes or the tickets they buy.

“It is not a private enterprise, though it may be constituted that way. Perhaps it is how it is constituted that is wrong?” Ms Dyas wrote.

She was responding to remarks the Taoiseach made about how to address the allegations by seven women against Mr Colgan.

Mr Varadkar said the Gate Theatre is a “private body” and “it has its own board, it has its own trustees, so obviously, in the first instance it’s a matter for the company itself to put in place its own procedures to investigate these allegations properly”.

In 2017, the Gate was awarded €860,000 from the Arts Council, under its ‘annual funding’ allotment. The Arts Council is the Government’s development agency for the arts and its total grant from the Exchequer in 2017 is €65.1m.

Meanwhile, the Gate Theatre is constituted as a private company limited by shares. Furthermore, its “ultimate controlling party” is the Edward MacLiammoir Gate Theatre Trust.

The theatre has attempted to address the allegations made by the women by setting up a confidential email address and appointing an independent human resources advisor.

However, Ms Dyas said she will not engage with the Gate until the impartiality of the board is restored, as Mr Colgan sat on it for many years.


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