Abbey Theater recruits consultant to review post-directors governance and policies

The Abbey Theater is seeking the appointment of a consultant to conduct an independent review of the institution’s governance and policies, including its internal legal and financial controls.

Earlier this year, the Arts Council attached a number of conditions to the €7.5 million grant to the National Theatre. These included “reviews of policies and procedures” to “protect spending of public funds.”

Reports followed that disputed payouts to two former Abbey executives and co-directors, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, had cost the theater up to €700,000 including legal fees.

Mazars was then asked to review the abbey’s finances and administration and presented his report at the end of March. The Arts Council declined to release this document, but confirmed that its funding this year was subject to a number of conditions.

These included measures to “protect the spending of public money now and in the future” and reviews in the areas of “procurement, human resources and integrity … and accountability and transparency”.

It is understood that the Abbey Theater has signaled its commitment to working with the Arts Council on this.

On Monday, the venue issued a statement saying it was seeking a consultant or firm to conduct an independent review of its corporate governance and policies, including internal human resources, legal and financial controls, and stakeholder management.

The bidding process for the shortlisted applicants will begin on October 14, and testing is expected to begin on November 7. The successful applicant will be asked to make recommendations based on their findings and a draft report should be submitted by January 23, 2023.

Last year it was reported that the Arts Council had hired Mazars to audit the Abbey Theater’s accounts to ensure that the controversial financial settlements paid to its former directors had not been paid from public funds.

McLaren and Murray both left the company when their tenure ended in 2021 but received payouts due to an error in handling their departures, sources said. Another settlement was reached over alleged mishandling of a separate HR process.

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