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Publication of an Open Letter to RTÉ in Defence of Public Service Arts Coverage

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Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin

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Writer Dave Lordan has published an open letter to RTÉ, signed by a growing number of artists in opposition to savage cuts at RTÉ and their implications for arts and culture coverage. Signatories so far include: Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Lisa O Neill, Raymond Deane, John Banville, Theo Dorgan, and Claire Kilroy.

Said Dave Lordan: There is a big fight in RTÉ between the upper layers and the ground level workers about the future of broadcasting in ireland – and our support for public service arts coverage really matters in this struggle.

If you wish to add your signature to the letter, please email dlordan@hotmail.com

The text of the letter:

We the undersigned are deeply concerned at the prospect of savage cuts at RTÉ and their implications for arts and culture coverage.

RTÉ is the only network in Ireland which provides anything like a bare minimum of consistent & broad coverage of the diverse range of Irish & international art and artists. Without RTÉ & its public service remit, there would be close to zero coverage of new & innovative literature, music, performance or visual arts on the Irish airwaves. Many Irish & Ireland-based artists rely entirely on RTÉ for coverage of our work to reach national & international audiences. Besides this, large numbers of freelance cultural workers rely on rté for occasional work in reviewing, artistic commissions, research, & so on.

The cutbacks that are now on the table for RTÉ’s arts & culture coverage will therefore have a severe impact on our ability as individuals and as a nation to produce the world-class work in all disciplines and genres that we are rightly known for all over the globe. Like many in Ireland, we each have our own criticisms of how RTÉ is run. Its pay-scales for senior management & celebrity presenters are clearly unjustifiable & should be drastically cut if necessary to help preserve RTÉ’s ability to fulfil the public service mission for which it was founded and for which it has been financially supported for generations of Irish people through license fees.

RTÉ owes it to the Irish past, present, & future to remain the key stakeholder in the comprehensive coverage of our cultural life. An Ireland which silences its writers and musicians & blanks out its visual artists is no Ireland – is no place to be proud of, is a disgrace to us all. We note the particular blow to the city of Limerick in the proposal to scale down and move LYRIC FM. Should this go ahead it will have a severe knock on effect on cultural life in a crucial west-of-Ireland city and aggravate the already prevalent Dublin-centrism in RTÉs cultural coverage & employment.

We therefore wish to express our full solidarity with the NUJ & SIPTU struggle against the cuts to quality public service programming and to the wages and conditions of all its hardworking ground staff. We call on RTÉ management and all who exert influence over them in government to reverse the course towards philistinism and the devastation of our cultural life they are now undertaking.

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