Love Your Orchestras!

Update as of 30 April 2018

On Monday 23 April, RTÉ Orchestras: Ensuring a sustainable future was published by Helen Boaden & Mediatique.

Below is the statement from IAYO on the matter:

We welcome the commitment expressed by Minister Denis Naughten and Minister Josepha Madigan to secure the futures of the National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. The report into the future of the orchestras at RTÉ was published on Monday 23 April. The report is incomplete in that it does not consider a joint funding model for the NSO within RTÉ. Nevertheless the case for the full restoration of both orchestras is clearly made; in relation to our peers in other countries, Ireland is already under-resourced in the provision of orchestral music. We look forward to hearing of a multi-stakeholder planning process to envision and implement the future of orchestral provision in Ireland.

Allin Gray
Executive Director
Irish Association of Youth Orchestras

The following letter was sent to both Minister Madigan and Minister Naughten on Thursday 26 April 2018:

Dear Minister …,

I am writing to you in relation to the recently released report on the future of the National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. While the report itself seems to ignore the already-mentioned possibility of both orchestras remaining within RTÉ on a mixed-funding model, nevertheless it is clear that provision of both orchestras should continue for the cultural benefit of the state and I welcome the clear support expressed both by yourself and by Minister ….

Further consultation is most certainly necessary before a final plan is produced and it is clear that this needs to be a multi-stakeholder process with a national and long-term vision for the development of Irish orchestras. In particular, the roles of amateur and youth orchestras as part of a national fabric of provision of participation at various levels need to be envisioned. As part of such a plan, we need to deliver financial security to the RTÉ orchestras to allow them to re-establish themselves and plan with vision. This will ensure better value for tax payers and artistic and educational outcomes for all in the long run.

The report’s narrow focus on professionally produced orchestral music for consumption in a variety of media does not recognise the fact that the RTÉ orchestras have had a far greater effect on the development of music in Ireland than just performing concerts and making recordings. We would wish to see them form part of an ever-growing fabric of participation, performance and attendance throughout the country, not simply as providers of concerts and education projects.

Of immediate importance, however, is the fact that the orchestras are currently underfunded and unstable and bringing them back up to full strength needs to begin immediately and not wait on potential changes in legislation that might see the orchestras operating under separate governance. Interim measures are likely needed to secure the long-term futures of the orchestras.

Yours sincerely,
Allin Gray,
Executive Director.

Links to articles and information

  • Statement by Ministers Naughten and Madigan on the publication of the report on the RTÉ Orchestas. (23 April 2018)
  • Press release from RTÉ. (23 April 2018)
  • Gerard Howlin on how lack of investment will sound death knell for future of the orchestra in the Irish Examiner. (25 April 2018)
  • Michael Dervan & Deirdre Falvey writing about how the review says that the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra should by funded be the government in the Irish Times. (23 April 2018)
  • Sinéad Crowley on how the review recommends that the National Symphony Orchestra becomes an independent body for (23 April 2018)
  • Editorial view of the Irish Times. (23 April 2018)


Take Action to Support the National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra

RTÉ is undergoing a review of their orchestral provision by Helen Boaden, a former British broadcasting executive who spent more than 30 years working for the BBC. The scope of the commissioned report only deals with orchestras within the context of RTÉ and its public service obligations, specifically excluding more general considerations of orchestral provision within Ireland.

SIPTU, under which the Musicians Union of Ireland is situated, have quoted the Interim General Manager of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra as informing its members “that by June 2018, RTÉ will lose a total of 31 full-time positions in the RTÉ NSO and RTÉ CO.”

In this context, The Irish Association of Youth Orchestras takes the position that the national provision of orchestras and orchestral provision is not a matter for RTÉ alone to decide and that the responsibility is jointly held between the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, The Arts Council, RTÉ and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

We call on the Minister for Culture, Josepha Madigan, and Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, to immediately halt the progress of the current report and to proceed with establishing and implementing a national strategy on orchestral provision, ensuring the maintenance and development of existing orchestras.

What Can you Do?

Update as of 3rd April 2018

IAYO members have taken excellent action to date and we would like you to take action once again. Ask your local TDs and Senators to contact the Minister for Culture and the Minister for Communications to request information on the current status of the orchestral review.

You can find your local TD at

Any publicity, social media noise that you can make is most welcome. And importantly, get as many others involved as you can.

Everything that you do to raise awareness in the public arena helps but direct political action is probably the most effective action you can take.

Here are some things you can do. Information you need to get going is provided below. Contact with any ideas or requests for support and we’ll do our best.

  1. Contact one or more of your local TDs
    1. Ask them to give their own support and, specifically, to contact both relevant ministers and insist that those ministers become involved in a) halting cuts to the orchestras and b) developing a national strategy for orchestras;
    2. Ask them, if not Fine Gael, to also contact their party spokesperson on the arts and request that their party officially support the two existing orchestras.
    3. Alternatively or in addition, deliver your own messages about the importance of the orchestras to Irish cultural life.
    4. A template letter is included below. However it is much better if you write it in your own words.
  2. Contact the Ministers for Culture and Communications directly
    1. Use the messages, a, b and c above.
  3. Share these messages (or others) and this resource page on social media, by email, by word of mouth so that others will take action also.
  4. Contact the opposition spokespeople on the arts.
  5. Contact the council members of The Arts Council
  6. Contact the Music Officer and Director of The Arts Council
  7. Write to national and local newspapers expressing your support for orchestra provision in Ireland

How do I contact them

  • TDs can be contacted by written letter, by email, by turning up to their constituency clinics, by telephone (admittedly a bit difficult with some) and through their websites and social media accounts.
  • You can find a list of your local TDs by going to and typing in your home address (ideally where you are registered to vote). This gives a list of known contact details and accounts.

Minister Josepha Madigan
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
23 Kildare Street, Dublin 2, D02 TD30
Phone: 01 631 3800
Facebook: JosephaMadiganFG

Minister Denis Naughten
Department of Communications, Climate action and Environment
29-31 Adelaide Road, Dublin D02 X285
Phone: +353 1 678 9807
Facebook: DenisNaughtenTD
Twitter: DenisNaughten

Niamh Smyth TD, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Arts
Phone: +353879982222
Facebook: niamh.smyth.79

Peadar Tóibín, Sinn Fein’s Spokesperson on Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts & the Gaeltacht
Phone: +353469021345
Facebook: peadar.toibin
Twitter: Toibin1

Joan Burton TD, Labour’s Spokesperson on the Arts, Education and Skills, Finance.
Phone: +35316184006
Facebook: joanburton
Twitter: joan_burton

Orlaith McBride, Director of The Arts Council
Phone: (01) 618 0225
Email care of:

Niall Doyle, Music Officer, The Arts Council
Phone: (01) 618 0272

Members of The Arts Council

Members of the Arts Council can be contacted by post c/o The Arts Council, 70 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

Sheila Pratschke, Chair
John McAuliffe, Deputy Chair
Brian Maguire
Dr Éimear O’Connor
Helen Shaw
Joan Sheehy
Loughlin Deegan
Martina Moloney
Miriam Dunne
Monica Spencer
Paddy Glackin
Padraig O Duinnin

Dee Forbes, Director General, RTÉ, Donnybrook, Dublin 4

Aodán Ó Dubhghaill, Head of Orchestras, lyric fm, Quartet & Choirs, RTÉ lyric fm, Cornmarket Square Limerick

RTÉ Board

You can try contacting members of the RTÉ board by post c/o RTÉ, Donnybrook, Dublin 4. We have no guarantee this will reach board members. Many or most, however, can be contacted through their own personal / business activities which you can find out about here.

Moya Doherty
Fergus Armstrong
Frank Hannigan
Dr P.J. Mathews
Deborah Kelleher
Aengus Mac Grianna
Anne O’Leary
Margaret E Ward
Fionnuala Sheehan
Shane Naughton
Eoin McVey

Links to Articles and Information

A non-exhaustive review

Sample Template Letter to TDs

[You can copy and paste this, changing the details, but it is better to use your own words. Mixing and matching works well]

[Address / Email]

Dear [TD / Senator / Minister],

I am writing to you with regard to the recently announced review of orchestral provision by RTÉ and communication to the staff of one of the orchestras that 31 positions will be lost by June 2018, effectively ending the existence of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra as separate entities capable of carrying out their respective activities.

What is at stake here is not just the provision of orchestras within RTÉ but, in fact, the national provision of orchestras within Ireland. These are the only two full-time orchestras in a country of more than four million people, already very poor provision in relation to our European neighbours. At a time when the Creative Ireland initiative is supposed to be putting creativity at the heart of government, we are seeing the very real possibility of the removal of one of our national cultural assets.

Given that RTÉ seems to be already moving on this ahead of the report, I would ask you, as a matter of urgency, to contact the Minister for Culture, Josepha Madigan, and the Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, to insist that cross-departmental responsibility is taken for developing a national strategy for orchestras in Ireland involving the departments of both culture and communications along with RTÉ and The Arts Council. Please communicate to the ministers that, not only should both orchestras be maintained, but that the National Symphony Orchestra is already below full strength and a commitment should be made to restore previous job losses.

Thank you for your time and your action in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Name]