Minister Madigan announces €1m funding for National Opera House in advance of officially opening the 2018 Wexford Festival Opera

Josepha Madigan TD, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht today (Friday 19 October 2018) announced a €1m capital grant for the National Opera House, in advance of the official opening the 2018 Wexford Festival Opera – which will see seventeen days of opera, concerts, recitals, and conversations.

The importance of the Festival has been recognised by Government in the provision of €32m in Exchequer support provided for the construction of Wexford Opera House – now the National Opera House – on the site of the former Theatre Royal.

In this regard, Minister Madigan announced additional capital funding:  “I am conscious that we are celebrating this year, the 10th Anniversary of the opening of this magnificent Opera House. And while this auditorium looks as good as the day on which it opened we all aware that every house requires continued investment to keep it in shape. So I am delighted tonight to announce that my Department will be investing €1m in necessary updating and refurbishment works over the next 3 years to protect the State’s significant investment in this building and to ensure that National Opera House continues to operate at the highest quality levels for many years to come.”

Commenting on the announcement, Chief Executive of Wexford Festival Opera and the National Opera House, David McLoughlin said, “We are deeply grateful to the Minister and her Department for continuing and extending theGovernment’s investment in this unique national cultural asset. The multi-annual funding will enable us to invest in the fabric of the highly sophisticated venue and maintain the National Opera House at its world-class standard in keeping with its national status. This investment, in what is a crucial element of the nation’s cultural infrastructure, will directly enhance the experience of the increasing numbers of audiences and artists who participate in multi-disciplinary performances in the venue year-round”.  
Throughout its history, the Festival has provided a unique stage for audiences from around the world to discover rare and infrequently performed operatic gems to the highest possible performance and production standards.

Wexford Festival Opera makes a crucial economic contribution to both the local and national economies. As one of Ireland’s leading cultural destination events it is a major generator of cultural tourism, due to over one third of its annual audience coming from abroad. The Festival receives annual public grant funding – through The Arts Council – with a contribution of €1.45m for 2018.

Internationally, the Festival has offered an invaluable opportunity to discover new and emerging performing talent from across the globe, reinforcing each year Wexford’s reputation as a significant and highly regarded platform and career spring-board for the major international opera stars of tomorrow.  The Festival has been ranked by readers of the authoritative Frommer’s publication as the third most popular destination in the world for opera lovers, and has been nominated for two years in a row as the Best Opera Festival at the International Opera Awards – with the 2017 Wexford Festival Opera winning Best Opera Festival in the World at the 2017 International Opera Awards.

Minister Madigan added: “In opera, Wexford is a global leader. In the arts, Wexford shows the best of what can be done nationally. This Government is deeply appreciative of this and will continue to be strongly supportive of the arts. The Taoiseach has made a public commitment to double funding for culture and the arts by 2025 and last week in Budget 2019 I was delighted to increase funding for arts and culture by over €22m. This includes doubling the increase in funding for the Arts Council by €6m to €75m which will underpin the Arts Councils support for opera in the coming year.”

Minister Madigan also extended her thanks and appreciation to the Festival artistic director, David Agler, the Festival board and all those involved in ensuring that the Festival remains such a significant event in our annual cultural calendar.


Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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