Background

The Abbey Theatre is Ireland’s National Theatre.  Inspired by the revolutionary ideals of its founders and its rich canon of Irish dramatic writing, the Abbey Theatre’s mission is to imaginatively engage with all of Irish society through the production of ambitious, courageous and new theatre in all its forms.  The Abbey Theatre commits to lead in the telling of the whole Irish story, in English and in Irish, and affirms that it is a theatre for the entire island of Ireland and for all its people.  In every endeavour, the Abbey Theatre promotes inclusiveness, diversity and equality.

Over the years, the Abbey Theatre has premiered the work of major Irish playwrights such as J.M. Synge, Sean O’Casey and Teresa Deevy, as well as contemporary classics from Sebastian Barry, Marina Carr, Brian Friel, Thomas Kilroy, Frank McGuinness, Tom Murphy and Mark O’Rowe.  In recent years Irish and international audiences have enjoyed the plays of a new generation of playwrights: Stacey Gregg, Nancy Harris, David Ireland, Deirdre Kinahan, Owen McCafferty, Phillip McMahon, Elaine Murphy, Michael West and Carmel Winters. The Abbey’s 2018/9 programmes debut playwrights Margaret Perry, Dylan Coburn Gray and Lisa Tierney Keogh.

The artistic policy of the Theatre incorporates the following ambitions:

  • To invest in and promote new Irish writers and artists
  • To produce an annual programme of diverse, engaging, innovative Irish and international theatre
  • To attract and engage a wide audience and provide compelling experiences that inspire them to return, and
  • To create a dynamic working environment which delivers best-practice standards across our business

Information on the 2019-2023 Strategy is at https://www.abbeytheatre.ie/five-year-strategy/

Potential applicants should note the recent appointment of a Dramaturg in the New Work Department (which incorporates the former Literary Department) and the commitment to new writing as set out in the Strategy.

Information on the Theatre’s history is at https://www.abbeytheatre.ie/about/history/

The Annual Review and Financial Statement for 2017 are at https://www.abbeytheatre.ie/annual-reports/

The Abbey Theatre has been approved for inclusion in the Irish Government’s capital programme for the cultural institutions, which envisages a major rebuilding of the Theatre in the coming years.

Functions of the Board

The Board is responsible for setting the broad strategy and policies for the Theatre.  It is responsible for the system of internal control and for putting in place processes and procedures for ensuring that the system is effective.

Matters reserved for the Board include:

  1. Significant acquisitions, disposals, and retirements of assets of the company. This applies to assets with values of €125,000 [excluding Value Added Tax(VAT)]  or more;
  2. Approval of terms of major contracts. Applies to contracts worth €125,000 [excluding VAT] or more;
  3. Major investments and capital projects where the value is €125,000 [excluding VAT] or more;
  4. Delegated authority levels, treasury policy and risk management;
  5. Policy on the determination of remuneration of senior management;
  6. Approval of annual budgets, corporate and strategic plans;
  7. Production of annual reports and accounts;
  8. Appointment, remuneration and assessment of the performance of the Chief Executives (Theatre Directors);
  9. Significant amendments to the pension of the Chief Executives and staff;
  10. Succession planning for the Chief Executives;
  11. Approval in advance of engagement in novel or contentious acts or in advance of the commitment of funds to novel or contentious purposes.

The Board’s policy is to follow the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies in those areas where it is relevant to the Theatre. The Board is assisted in the discharge of its responsibilities by a number of Board Committees which include Audit & Risk, Development, and Site Redevelopment.  Depending on the successful candidate’s specific area of expertise, they may be requested to sit on one or more of these committees.

Person Specification

The Board of the Abbey Theatre particularly welcomes applications representative of the diversity of the Irish population, particularly reflecting gender, geography and cultural interests.

Expressions of interest are invited from applicants who consider they possess some or all of the following experience and skills:

  • Experience as a playwright and of working with producing professional theatres (in Ireland and/or internationally);
  • A wide knowledge of new Irish playwriting and of the Irish Canon;
  • A knowledge of, and interest in, international playwriting and theatre;
  • Experience of interacting closely with other artists in the theatre sector.

In addition to this experience, it is desirable that applicants possess

  • The ability to act independently and to arrive at an opinion about important matters and be prepared to use external sources to verify information upon which he/she will rely in coming to an opinion on a matter;
  • The ability to assess and hold management accountable for performance – not just financial performance but also for performance in achieving the Abbey Theatre’s strategic objectives;
  • The ability to communicate effectively, work as part of a team and act as a strong advocate for the Abbey Theatre’s strategic direction, vision, mission and values;
  • A willingness and ability to support the Theatre in relation to strengthening its donor base.

Term of Appointment

  • There are no fees payable for this position, but travel expenses related to holding the position (e.g., attendance at Board and Committee meetings) will be reimbursable.
  • In line with best practice, the term of appointment is 3 years, and successful candidates may serve a maximum of two terms of 3 years.
  • There will be a formal Induction Programme for the successful candidate and training in governance.
  • The Board meets quarterly and has at least six half-day sessions. Additional Board meetings are convened as necessary.
  • Each Board Committee meets at least quarterly ahead of Board meetings and additionally as required. Board members are expected to sit on at least one Board Committee.

How to apply

To apply for the current vacancy, interested candidates should submit the following by email to boardvacancy@abbeytheatre.ie:

  • A cover letter that responds to the information set out in the Person Specification above, outlining the rationale for their application, including relevant skills, knowledge and experience (particularly of working with others in the theatre sector).
  • A curriculum vitae

In your letter of application, you should confirm that you do not have any conflicts of interest or legal impediment that would be likely to interfere with your ability to play a full part on the Board.  As a writer sitting on the Board, the process for selecting plays for commission or production will ensure that you will be neither advantaged nor disadvantaged compared with other playwrights. This possibility of professional engagement with the Theatre applies to all artists while serving on the Board of the Theatre.

You should also confirm that you can make yourself available to attend meetings and to carry out the duties of a Board member.

Applications should be received by 12.00 on Friday 10 May.

Appointments Process

Applications by qualified candidates for board membership will be considered by the Abbey Theatre Board’s Selection Committee.

The Selection Committee comprises the Chair of the Abbey Theatre Board, the Chair of the Arts Council and the Minister’s advisor to the Selection Committee (currently Professor Chris Morash, TCD). The nomination from the Selection Committee is put forward to the Board of the Abbey Theatre.