Cork Film Festival figures to be made redundant

Director of event since 1986 rejects suggestion issue is down to funding

 Mick Hannigan, Cork Film Festival director since 1986 and chief executive since 2009, rejected any suggestion that the issue was down to funding and said he believed the festival board simply wanted a change of team. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Mick Hannigan, Cork Film Festival director since 1986 and chief executive since 2009, rejected any suggestion that the issue was down to funding and said he believed the festival board simply wanted a change of team. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Cork Film Festival director Mick Hannigan and festival programmer Una Feely have expressed their dismay after being informed that they are to be made redundant by the company which runs the festival.

The two, who together have given over 40 years’ service to the festival, were informed last Friday by Cork Film Festival chairman Denis McSweeney that they were being made redundant “due to the financial position of the company”.

But yesterday, Mr Hannigan, who has been festival director since 1986 and chief executive since 2009, rejected any suggestion that the issue was down to funding and said he believed the festival board simply wanted a change of team.

Mr Hannigan said: “We are concerned that this move is not in the best interests of the company, that the redundancies are not legitimate in that reasons are not financial but as a result of the board wishing to change the team.”

Mr Hannigan said the current financial difficulties stem from a delay in the confirmation of Arts Council funding for 2013 pending the presentation of a recently commissioned report into the future of the festival.

According to Mr Hannigan, he fully expected the Arts Council to give the go-ahead for funding of €170,000 at its April plenary meeting, and although principal sponsor Corona is no longer sponsoring the festival, he expressed confidence that money would be found.

The estimated costs of running the festival are likely to be in the region of €370,000, and in addition to Arts Council funding of €170,000, the European Union is expected to provide €30,000, Cork City Council €17,000 and Fáilte Ireland some €18,500, he said.

Various other supports are expected to generate a further €12,500, while sponsorship, fundraising and patrons’ support would provide a further €30,000, with ticket sales through some 25,000 admissions estimated to bring in €95,000, he said.

Mr Hannigan said it was inexplicable how reductions in funding had been escalated into a crisis for the organisation.

“The festival, reporting surpluses for the past four years, is in a healthy position despite cutbacks,” he said.

When contacted by The Irish Times, Mr McSweeney said “an independent strategic review showed that our structure was simply unsustaianable”. He added that this year’s festival is scheduled to go ahead in November as usual.