The Musicians Union of Ireland (MUI), an affiliate union of SIPTU, has expressed concern and disappointment with a decision by the Government to move the control of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (RTÉNSO) from the broadcaster to the National Concert Hall.
MUI/SIPTU Organiser, Graham Macken, said: “The decision was announced following a meeting of the cabinet yesterday (Thursday, 5th July). It was made without prior consultation with the main stake holder in the RTÉNSO, that is the union which represents the members of the Orchestra.
“The move follows the publication of the Boaden Review last April. This review examined the operation of the RTÉNSO and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. While SIPTU representatives welcomed a number of the observations contained in this review, including recognition that the Orchestra has been underfunded for a significant number of years and as a result was prevented from reaching its true potential.
“The review also recognised that there has been a significant deficit in proper management, artistically and functionally, including a failure to fill vacant seats including, most importantly, the appointment of a principal conductor.
“However, the cabinet decision that the RTÉNSO should be moved to the National Concert Hall is premature. Our members have not formed a view as to where they should be placed in order to develop artistically, to engage in educational activities, to have adequate secure funding and to provide continued job security.
He added: “The other options, that should not be ruled out at this point, include its moving control of the orchestra to a separate cultural entity or it remaining within RTÉ, with the necessary additional funding required made available.
“Since the publication of the Boaden Review, union representatives have liaised with the Federation of International Musicians (FIM) to ascertain their experience when orchestras have been separated from the relevant national broadcasters in other countries. In the main this has not worked as well an anticipated and not at all in some cases.
“It is therefore essential that the Orchestra members and their representatives are involved centrally in any negotiations to ensure whatever decision is enacted that the pitfalls of the international experience are not repeated. Consequently the MUI and SIPTU call on both RTÉ and the Government to enter into meaningful discussions to ensure the best outcome for the orchestra while being mindful of the requirements and responsibilities of a fully functioning public service broadcaster.”