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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Louise Burne

Dail's spending watchdog says RTE has 'questions to answer' over Toy Show The Musical production

The Chair of the Dáil’s spending watchdog has called for RTÉ to clarify whether they did enough “market research” ahead of its Toy Show The Musical production.

Brian Stanley, chairman of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that reports suggest that very few tickets have been sold in the “crowded” panto market.

The production in Dublin’s Convention Centre has been ravaged with cancellations in recent days. Performances last weekend were scrapped due to illness amongst cast members.

Read More : Covid Ireland Christmas concern as CMO issues new face mask and isolation advice

RTÉ also announced that it reduced the number of shows from three to two this Wednesday and Thursday.

Mr Stanley told the Irish Mirror that RTÉ has questions to answer about the “business case, associated expenditure, the hire of the venue, advertising and cast expenditure” linked to the production.

“My own opinion of it is there are issues around what kind of examination was done of that market before they embarked on the project,” the Sinn Féin TD said.

“Is it already a crowded space, the Christmas show space in the Dublin area? Some people tell me it is very crowded.

“If anybody is feeling unwell, that can happen and it is fair enough.

“But there are reports, and this is what we want RTÉ to clarify, that ticket sales are not going very well at all.

“Shows were cancelled at the last minute. In one case, it's reported that a show was cancelled as people were sitting in their seats.

“RTÉ is a commercial semi-state. I have said it myself they need to up their game in terms of commercial revenue.

“Their finances have been on the precarious side for the last number of years.

“But you have to be careful.”

Mr Stanley said there are “risks” when you undertake a new commercial venture and that perhaps RTÉ “didn’t think that through properly”.

The Social Democrat’s co-leader and PAC’s vice-chair Catherine Murphy told the Irish Mirror that “it would be interesting to see if it is something that actually makes money”.

“What thinking went into it in advance of deciding on it,” she said.

“The Toy Show is hugely successful and I presume that this is a spin-off from that.

“When we get the information back from RTÉ we can get an idea of this if this is a potential stream of funding.”.

When asked if shows had been cancelled due to a lack of tickets sold, a spokesperson for RTÉ reiterated that cast illnesses had led to cancellations.

“It was with deep regret that due to illness in the cast and crew Toy Show the Musical had to cancel a number of shows on Saturday 17 and Sunday December 18,” they said.

“While there is a significant degree of resilience in the cast, where roles can be covered by understudies, given illness persists among a cast of predominantly children, it is necessary to make further adjustments to the schedule this week.

“RTÉ notes the questions raised [by the] Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Brian Stanley. RTÉ has yet to receive a letter from the PAC and will respond in due course to any questions raised."

The Irish Mirror understands that the PAC sent the letter to RTÉ on Tuesday afternoon.

The letter sent by PAC, and seen by the Irish Mirror, states that it wants RTÉ to provide “the business case and an information note to include associated expenditure and costs of producing the show to include casting, venue hire and advertising”.

The national broadcaster was asked to provide this information within 10 working days.


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