THE artistic director of the Abbey Fiach Mac Conghail has launched an impassioned rebuke to criticism of the national theatre.
It follows damning interim findings of an international panel of evaluators which suggested the Abbey is struggling to meet its aim of being a world-class theatre.
The evaluations, secured under the Freedom of Information Act, suggested some plays were judged by individual assessors as not reaching "an acceptable standard for professional theatre presentation".
But in a statement published on the theatre's website, Senator Mac Conghail questioned the private evaluation reports being made public. He said that artists were now working in a very tough environment.
"The whole arts sector is working with diminished resources. It means I have to make tough decisions so that the investment in our art can be maximised to the best of our ability and that value for money for the Irish taxpayer can be achieved. I have no issue with evaluation. Every publicly funded organisation is evaluated and rightly so," he said.
And he took a sideswipe at the evaluation reports which were published by 'The Irish Times' at the weekend.
"The cruel publication of these reports, without a clear context and halfway through a private evaluation process, has undermined the trust between the Abbey Theatre and the artists we invite to work with us," he claimed.
The reports published at the weekend showed how assessors gave just four of 12 recent productions ratings that were "very good" or "excellent", or very close to it.