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STEVE WILMER The Irish theatre has continued to benefit from a rapidly expanding economy and a

sizeable increase in government subsidy. John O’Donoghue, the new arts minister who

was appointed in June 2002 and whose portfolio was redefined to include sports and

tourism, reported that the government had increased its spending on the arts from

1997 to 2002 by 80%, from 26.4 million to 47.8 million Euros. Before leaving office,

his predecessor, Sile de Valera, announced an ambitious five-year plan that the

funding would increase to 79.8 million Euros by 2006. (However, with a recent down-

turn in the economy and announced cutbacks in governmental budgeting, it remains

to be seen whether the government will sustain this level of growth.) In tandem with

the increased expenditure on the arts, many new theatres have been built or upgraded

both in the Dublin area (such as the new Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire) and

around the country. Furthermore, rather than providing only annual funding to arts

organisations, the arts council has provided increased security for thirteen subsidized

theatres and theatre-oriented organisations (such as Rough Magic, Fishamble and

Meridian theatre companies), providing them with three-year funding.