24/04/2018

RTÉ Warned Over Proposals To Outsource National Symphony Orchestra

The Musicians Union of Ireland (MUI) and SIPTU has issued a caution to RTÉ against any proposal to outsource the National Symphony Orchestra.

The caution comes following the presentation of a report, commissioned by RTÉ, conducted by Ms Helen Boaden, to the group of RTÉ Union's this morning.

SIPTU Organiser Graham Macken said: "The report recommended that while the RTÉ Concert Orchestra (RTECO) remains as part of RTÉ, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (RTENSO) should become a cultural institution in its own right or within the National Concert Hall. SIPTU and MUI members are fundamentally opposed to this proposition and will defend their position vigorously.

"SIPTU/MUI urges the Board of RTÉ to consider their obligations and options in order to provide a continued high-quality service to the public and avoid any dilution to their current services and content when it meets later this week, or face the consequences."

The report vindicates SIPTU and MUI members' concerns at the lack of funding for the orchestras and a need to return them to their full complement of musicians by filling existing vacancies, including the appointment of a Principle Conductor. The report notes the requirement for the orchestras to return to regular touring within the island of Ireland and indeed further afield.

Graham Macken added: "RTE is currently undergoing a restructure program which is supported by the Group of Unions on the basis that meaningful negotiations will take place to ensure the future viability of the public broadcaster while at the same time protecting the terms and conditions of employment of our members.

"We believe that the time is right to both review how the license fee is collected and to consider a modest increase. Both these actions would significantly assist in RTÉ's ability to provide increased content while meeting their obligations under the Broadcasting Act 'to establish and maintain orchestras'."

He continued: "An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, stated during his bid for the party leadership that he would increase funding for the Arts. There is absolutely no reason why this cannot be done directly through the State broadcaster as one of the larger contributors to the Arts in Ireland. The funds do not need to be made available to an external third party.

"I think the Taoiseach's comments recently that this campaign should not turn into one about a license fee increase is unhelpful, as the additional amount being suggested by the Director General of RTÉ, Dee Forbes, amounted to approximately €1.25 per month. We believe this would achieve support amongst the public."

(MH)

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