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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any ideas or requests for support and we’ll do our best.
- 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.
- Contact one or more of your local TDs
- 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;
- 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.
- Alternatively or in addition, deliver your own messages about the importance of the orchestras to Irish cultural life.
- A template letter is included below. However it is much better if you write it in your own words.
- Contact the Ministers for Culture and Communications directly
- Use the messages, a, b and c above.
- 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.
- Contact the opposition spokespeople on the arts.
- Contact the council members of The Arts Council
- Contact the Music Officer and Director of The Arts Council
- 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 Denis Naughten
Department of Communications, Climate action and Environment
29-31 Adelaide Road, Dublin D02 X285
Phone: +353 1 678 9807
Orlaith McBride, Director of The Arts Council
Phone: (01) 618 0225
Email care of: email@example.com
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
Dr Éimear O’Connor
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
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.
Dr P.J. Mathews
Aengus Mac Grianna
Margaret E Ward
Links to Articles and Information
A non-exhaustive review
- The Irish Times: Can RTÉ effectively axe an orchestra? (Michael Dervan: 08 November)
- The Irish Times: RTÉ tunes up independent review of orchestras (Laura Slattery: 11 November)
- The Irish Times: Letters to the Editor: ‘Can RTÉ effectively axe an orchestra?’ (Letters to the Editor: 11 November)
- The Irish Times: RTÉ and its orchestras (Letters to the Editor: 14 November)
- The Irish Times: Denis Naughten should be alarmed by Ivan Yates’s RTÉ sources (Michael Dervan: 15 November)
- The Irish Times: Love Your Orchestras? (Letters to the Editor: 17 November)
- The Irish Times: Music and the public good (Letters to the Editor: 18 November)
- Irish Independent: Broadcaster’s ‘adapt or die’ move will cost €20m as 200 workers are made redundant (23 March)
- The Journal of Music: Musicians and Conductors Speak Out on RTÉ Orchestral Review (22 November)
- Hot Press: Fianna Fail’s Niamh Smyth Calls for Commitment on Future of RTE Orchestras (23 November)
- FiannFail.ie: Smyth calls for commitment on future of RTE Orchestras (23 November)
- Slippedisk.com: Top news: Irish PM blocks orchestra merger (23 November)
- MUI.ie: SIPTU and MUI express concern over proposed review of RTÉ orchestras (Undated)
- The Irish Times: Orchestras and cultural values (Letters to the Editor: 23 November)
- RTE.ie: RTÉ announces review of orchestral services (Undated)
- The Irish Times: RTÉ’s orchestra cuts will be seen everywhere, from weddings to schools (Michael Dervan: 22 November)
- The Irish Times: Taoiseach concerned at ‘any diminution’ of RTÉ orchestras (Marie O’Halloran: 21 November)
- The Times (of London): Orchestras’ futures in the dark (John Burns: 19 November)
- The Irish Times: Playing politics with the RTÉ orchestra cutbacks controversy (Michael Dervan: 29 November)
- RTE News: RTÉ accused of working to downgrade orchestras (29 November)
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, 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.