Waterford theatregoers must feel a gap of bewilderment, if not isolation, to read the spat between Druid in Galway and the Abbey in Dublin that started out as a dispute over the rights to some O’Casey plays. Whether the Abbey stymied Druid in their plan to mount a season of O’Casey Revolution in 2009 and the Abbey to stage the same plays in about three years time, is a moot point. But look at the funding these companies receive. In 2008, the Abbey were offered €10 million and they are the national theatre but you might wonder about their relationship, if any, to Waterford. But Waterford people’s taxes fund such institutions. Druid will get €838,000, give or take, rounding up to the nearest euro. Druid do not have any contact with Waterford although their press people are easier to deal with than the Abbey.
Red Kettle Theatre Company get about a quarter of the Druid funding and the emerging Stagemad Theatre Company who support new writers get nothing. Total Arts Council support to the Waterford area is at best €1.4 million, about an eighth of the Abbey allocation. Something doesn’t add up folks. Short-changed is too polite a word for it and ripped-off might be too strong a word.