The Abbey Theatre has said it has "learned" from recent meetings with theatre representatives, and has given a commitment to address issues including rates of pay and the number of 'bought in' productions staged at the theatre.

Last January hundreds of theatre professionals signed a letter expressing discontent at the direction the theatre had taken.

A series of meetings then took place between the theatre and representatives of the signatories.

The Abbey wrote to the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht today outlining the steps it intends to take to address the issues.

It said it had become clear that communication between the theatre and the theatre community needed to be addressed and that it was committed to doing this.

In relation to the issue of 'bought in' productions, the Abbey said it had already made specific commitments to the Arts Council in relation to the balance of its artistic programme.

It said self and co-produced works will continue at the theatre, along with limited presentations, but it will no longer engage in 'in association' partnerships, outside of agreements already in place.

The signatories of the letter had also asked that performers, directors and designers whose work is used by the National Theatre be given National Theatre terms and conditions.

The Abbey said it is committed to ensuring that all independent artists employed on co-productions would receive rates of pay and conditions corresponding to those employed in a self-produced show, and that these terms would also apply to productions on tour.

It also said that in future the theatre will have clear stated policies on employment conditions for all freelance artists.

Today's letter also outlines commitments given by the Abbey to the groups it met on a bilateral basis, including actors and agents, producers and technicians, designers, directors and writers. Among these commitments are:

  • A point of contact for casting
  • A meeting with Irish Equity in relation to rates of pay
  • Improved communication with directors
  • discussion of a rate card for writers

The Abbey said it is aware that as the national theatre it should lead by example in setting high benchmarks in the treatment of artists and theatre practice and it said it was committed to improving communication with the sector.

Minister Joespha Madigan said she was very pleased with the engagement between the theatre and the theatre practitioners  and said she believed the events of the past months will ultimately strengthen theatre in Ireland.