Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
35. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason she favoured moving the National Symphony Orchestra to the National Concert Hall over establishing it as a national cultural institution in its own right; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45506/19]
As the Deputy will be aware, RTÉ commissioned a report from independent consultants Helen Boaden and Mediatique on the RTÉ Orchestras entitled RTÉ Orchestras Ensuring a Sustainable Future. The Report made a number of recommendations including that the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) be a national cultural institution in its own right or within the National Concert Hall (NCH).
My Department, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, the National Concert Hall and RTÉ considered the Report and were all of the view that the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra should come within the remit of the National Concert Hall and should not be established as a separate body.
The main reasons for this are as follows:
- The NSO has been located in the NCH since it opened in 1981 and it provides the backbone to the Hall's orchestral music programme.
- To the public at large the NCH and the NSO are already intrinsically linked and the aims of both are entirely compatible.
- The recently announced capital investment plan for the NCH includes enhanced and additional facilities for the NSO, incorporating a dedicated rehearsal studio.
- The support services for an orchestra and a concert hall significantly overlap: programming, education and outreach, finance, operations, marketing and communications, personnel, and fundraising.
- Finally a combined creative and imaginative overall programme strategy will greatly enhance the offering of both organisations to the public.
At its meeting on 5 July 2018 the Government agreed in principle that the NSO should come within the remit of the National Concert Hall. The Government also authorised the initiation of discussions on the implementation of the recommendations of the Boaden report.
The overall aim of the Government decision in relation to the proposed transfer of the RTÉ NSO is to enable the orchestra to be established as a world class orchestra which would, with the NCH, provide a creative and imaginative programme strategy that would greatly enhance the offering of the combined organisation to the public. I was pleased to secure funding of €1m as part of Budget 2020 towards the cost of the proposed transfer in 2020.
In addition to this there are currently a number of other musical organisations located at the National Concert Hall - the Chamber Choir Ireland, the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Crash Ensemble, Music Network and Music Generation. The work of these organisations complements that of the NSO and represents a broad spread of artistic output across the classical music spectrum that is at the core of the remit of the NCH.