Love Your Orchestras!

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

RTÉ has announced 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, Heather Humphreys, 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?

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 allin@iayo.ie with any ideas or requests for support and we’ll do our best.

  1. Sign the Petition: A partcipant in Dublin Youth Orchestras has created a petition at change.org. Please sign it as well as taking other actions below.
  2. 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.
  3. Contact the Ministers for Culture and Communications directly
    1. Use the messages, a, b and c above.
  4. 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.
  5. Contact the opposition spokespeople on the arts.
  6. Contact the council members of The Arts Council
  7. Contact the Music Officer and Director of The Arts Council
  8. 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 www.whoismytd.com 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
Email: josepha.madigan@oireachtas.ie
Facebook: JosephaMadiganFG

Minister Denis Naughten
Department of Communications, Climate action and Environment
29-31 Adelaide Road, Dublin D02 X285
Phone: +353 1 678 9807
Email: minister.naughten@dccae.gov.ie
Facebook: DenisNaughtenTD
Twitter: DenisNaughten

Niamh Smyth TD, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Arts
Phone: +353879982222
Email: niamhsmyth0@gmail.com
Facebook: niamh.smyth.79

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

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

Orlaith McBride, Director of The Arts Council
Phone: (01) 618 0225
Email care of: bernie.oleary@artscouncil.ie

Niall Doyle, Music Officer, The Arts Council
Phone: (01) 618 0272
Email: niall.doyle@artscouncil.ie

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]
[phone]
[date]

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, Heather Humphreys, and the Minister for Communications, Denis Naughton, to insist that the current review is halted and that cross-departmental responsibility is taken for the 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]