Arts council decision 'extraordinary'

Andy Hinds, director of Classic Stage Ireland (CSI), has described a decision by the Arts Council not to fund a CSI production as “extraordinary” and “unacceptable”. CSI applied to the Arts Council for two grants in 2006. The first application was a grant to commission playright Tom Kilroy to do further work on his new play, Christ Deliver Us, a version of the 1890s German classic Spring Awakening by Wedekind. The second application was for part-funding of €90,000 to produce the play in four Dublin theatres in May 2007.

The Arts Council gave two reasons for refusing the application for production of the play. It said there were “budgetary concerns in relation to actor remuneration” and that it was an “extremely ambitious proposal”.

In regard to the first application, the Arts Council said that it was unclear whether the script existed and if it did exist, then they could not consider it a commission and therefore could not fund it.

“I find both decisions extraordinary and the reasons offered, by any standards, unacceptable,” says Andy Hinds. “Prior to our application, I clearly explained to the Arts Council officer that the Kilroy script already existed and that we would be applying for assistance to commission Kilroy to do further work. I was assured by this officer that commissioning money could legitimately be applied for in such an instance.”

He says as far as he was concerned, members of the panel did know about the script and if there was any confusion, a simple phone call could have clarified the matter. Hinds also objects to the reason given for refusing to fund the production of the play – that it was too “ambitious”. He says CSI has recently mounted three Shakespeare productions of more ambitious scale than the Kilroy play. All three productions were successful.

Tom Kilroy is a well-known playwright who has written 13 stage plays. They include The Death and Resurrection of Mr Roche, Talbot's Box, Double Cross and The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde.

In 2004 he was awarded an Irish Times/ESB Theatre Awards special tribute award for his contribution to theatre.

Andy Hinds has a tradition of high-quality Elizabethan, Jacobean and Restoration productions, and has overseen theatre and opera productions in the Druid, the Peacock and the Gate. He created and taught RADA's three-month International Acting Shakespeare course for professional actors, directors and academics.

On 7 December Hinds wrote the Mary Cloake, director of the Arts Council, asking for a review of the decisions and for a meeting. He has not heard back from her.  
The Arts Council provided €72.3m in grants and funding in 2006.

Emma Browne