Arts Council announces theatre project funding decisions
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THEATREclub: now in receipt of public subsidy.

View theatre project award details for 2010 via the Arts Council's decision database.

Arts Council announces theatre project funding decisions

A clearer picture of the Irish theatre enabled by the Arts Council’s new theatre policy has emerged with the publication of this year’s theatre project awards. Designed to directly support the development and production of work outside of a core-funded company model, these awards represent a significant emphasis on new and emerging companies with notably few awards extended to companies recently removed from the revenue-funding stream.

More than 100 applicants sought grants among three possible strands – development, presentation or production of work – with just twenty-four proving successful. Total funding for theatre projects amounts to €835,500, divided among projects of varying scales.

Individual recipients range from the modest allocation of €3,000, for Conall Morisson’s plan “to workshop and rehearse a new play, The Ministry of Deliverance”, to the largest allocation of €89,000 for Joan Sheehy’s project to premiere a new play by Mary Coll, Anything But Love, inspired by Kate O'Brien's novel The Ante-Room.

As previously reported by ITM, the Arts Council brought forward the schedule for theatre project decisions to early May, a deadline that was kept, while project awards for other art forms are due to be announced in early June. Touring award decisions are also expected imminently. All project and award schemes are drawn from a pool of about €12m, or 20 per cent of the Arts Council’s direct funding budget. Of the eleven production companies to have lost revenue funding early this year, only one, Meridian, is represented among the new project grant recipients, with €20,000 extended to the company for an adaptation of a recent Sebastian Barry novel, The Secret Scripture. ITM understands that several other de-funded companies had made applications but were unsuccessful. Some are now stretching any remaining resources in an effort to continue (each received a third of their annual budget), others will go dormant, and some may be forced to cease operations.

With more than 100 applications raising the level of competiveness, the proposals were studied by a team of assessors, referred to the Arts Council’s theatre department and a resulting shortlist approved by a seven-person grant committee of the Council. One clear pattern to have emerged is pronounced support for young companies and new work. Broken Talkers, Playgroup, Hammergrin, THISISPOPBABY, Randolph SD, Making Strange, Jody O’Neill, Deirdre Roycroft and THEATREclub have all received funding to originate or devise pieces, two of which are musicals and one of which explores the use of pecha kucha as a starting point for performance. (Google it.)

One unanticipated consequence of the project awards system is that brief descriptions of the funded works are now publicly available, resulting in a number of spoilers for forthcoming festival programmes. Among the published details are three productions scheduled for this year’s Absolut Fringe Festival: Selina Cartmell’s Medea, Priscilla Robinson’s Help Me! Help Me! and a new work from THEATREclub about young male heroin users.

But the biggest news may be a co-production for the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival from Landmark, awarded €47,500 for a new play by Colm Tóibín entitled Ephesus. In a system of transparency we may have to expect fewer surprises.

1 Comment

Mary Allen says Thu, 27 May 2010 3:30
Glad to see young blood getting funding. It's really about time. Shake ups can be good. Hope they do well, for their own sake.

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