Druid cites budget and time as reason for 2020 pullout

'We have raised our concerns with the chair of Galway 2020 and are in ongoing discussions with them'

Galway 2020's troubled gestation was dealt a further - and very significant - blow this week, with Galway's leading international theatre company, Druid, announcing it was withdrawing its major international production from the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture programme.

The Druid production, Middle Island, inspired by Colm Tóibín’s novella and play, Testament, about the life of Mary after the death of Jesus, was to have been one of several flagship projects in the €46 million programme, and would have involved performances on Inis Meáin. It is understood that Druid had put two years of work into Middle Island, but the budget offered no longer made it feasible.

In a statement, Druid Theatre Company, said it had been "forced to withdraw" the Middle Island project due to "the loss of time, significant budget cuts, and communication issues". The statement continued: "We have raised our concerns with the chair of Galway 2020 and are in ongoing discussions with them."

'Galway 2020 has been dogged by controversy. It lost its creative director, Chris Baldwin, in May, while its chief executive, Hannah Kiely, stepped down last month'

However Druid emphasised it had not pulled out of Galway 2020, and that it intends to work with it and fund an alternative project, which has as yet to be identified. "Like other Galway producers, we want to make 2020 a success which builds upon the work of the Galway cultural community over the past decades," the statement said. "We are working actively with Galway 2020 to identify an alternative project.”

Galway 2020 has been dogged by controversy. It lost its creative director, Chris Baldwin, in May, while its chief executive of just over a year, Hannah Kiely, stepped down last month. This week, the 2020 board announced that the Galway City Council director of services Patricia Philbin would replace Ms Kiely. However there is still no creative lead, in spite of a commitment to appoint one by late July.

It is understood that those behind other artistic projects for Galway 2020 are due to meet the chief executives of Galway city and county councils later this week, and are expected to raise similar concerns to Druid, regarding creative vision, funding shortfalls, and communication.

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