‘They Said It Wasn’t Their Business’


From top: Gate Theatre, Dublin and Arts Council logo

Further to the claims made against former artistic director of the Gate Theatre Michael Colgan…

And the fact The Gate Theatre receives funding from the Arts Council – the theatre received €860,000 from the council in 2016 and €860,000 in 2015…


The Sunday Independent reported on a survey carried out last year by Irish Equity, which is part of the union SIPTU, and represents actors, theatre directors, stage and set designers in Ireland.

The survey involved people, mostly women, working in the arts and wasn’t limited to any one location.

It found that almost 60 per cent of those surveyed said they had been bullied but that almost 75 per cent had not reported it because they feared it might jeopardise future work opportunities.

Further to this.

Karan O’Loughlin, speaking to Keelin Shanley on RTE’s News At One this afternoon said:

“This is an open secret in the arts. We went to the Arts Council with this early in 2016 to ask them to help us to deal with it by connecting funding to robust anti-bullying procedures and they refused.

They said it wasn’t their business.”

It’s an absolute pre-requisite, in my view, that all of the funding bodies should insist that any organisation applying for funding, or being supported with State money, should have robust anti-bullying and anti-harrassment, including anti-sexual harassment procedures in place.”

Abuse in the arts: the shocking truth (Irish Independent) 

Previously: Barbarian At The Gate

“I Knew It Was Likely I Would Never Work In The Gate Again”

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31 thoughts on “‘They Said It Wasn’t Their Business’

    1. Paddy at the Howth Summit

      Fact: The Arts Council distributes the Cnuas.

      Members of Aosdána are eligible to receive from the Arts Council a Cnuas – an annuity for a term of five years – to assist them in concentrating their time and energies in the full-time pursuit of their art.

      The value of the Cnuas (in 2015) is €17,180.

      1. Frilly Keane

        I’m in the wrong clubs

        And shur
        Ye’d all be delighted ta’see me concentrate my time and energies in pursuit of my Art

  1. Eamonn Clancy

    In 2013 the Gate hosted the World Actors Forum. http://www.gatetheatre.ie/section/WAF. At the end of the last day all participants were paid, off the books, €500 in cash via a little brown envelope and 34 of them were treated to an all expenses paid meal in an expensive restaurant in Dawson Street. A senior member of the Arts Council was present.

  2. Listrade

    Funny they say that it “wasn’t their business”. The bit in their application process for finding that calls for a business plan would include governance. I’m sure the Charities Act would come into play, especially what it has to say on governance. Even the Gate website states:

    The Gate Theatre is committed to complying with the recommended guidelines for financial reporting requirements and with the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising as developed by Irish Charities Tax Research Ltd (ICTR).In addition The Gate Theatre is also committed to good governance and the organisation complies with all regulatory requirements and operates in accordance with its governing document.”

    Compliance with all regulatory requirements would also include complying with Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 Section 8 (2)(b) “managing and conducting work activities in such a way as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any improper conduct or behaviour likely to put the safety, health or welfare at work of his or her employees at risk;” Which would involve as a minimum having a Bullying and Harassment Policy and a system to manage cases.

    But I’m sure I’m reading too much into it and the Arts Council did their due diligence when approving the funding, no body pays attention to the Charities Act anyway.

      1. ivan

        In an ideal world, every body that awards funding should ensure that those that benefit from their largesse should not be a hotbed of bullying, sexual harrasment, fraud, theft, etc, and certainly a good start is polices. As I understand it, if you’re a body like the Gate, you start with a Principle, and say that it’s ‘we don’t want people bullied’, and that Principle then begets a Policy, and the Policy is devised by the board, and then, the board (with a bit of help from others) will devise a set of Procedures to implement the Policy.

        Really, it occurs to me that they might well have had a policy, but if you’re going to hold back funding, you need to ensure that the Procedures are not being implemented. A Policy is only a document, it’s lip service (if you want to be deeply cynical); it’s what you *do* with your policy that matters – you need to have procedures and you need to apply them.

        And I really really really really really don’t think, Listrade, with the greatest of respect (honestly, love your work :) ) that the Arts Council can be monitoring that. Because not all funders can be ruddy well checking every other subservient body’s procedures. In an ideal world they would but can you imagine the bloat there’d be?

        1. Frilly Keane

          but their Auditors would be checking they complied with Grant conditions year in year out
          otherwise the Gate would be in breech
          and they would be obliged to report same in their Financial Statements

          I forget what FRS it is
          but yeah there is an obligation to ensure that Grant Income conditions are met before that income can be recognised

        2. Listrade

          I wouldnt have said they should monitor it, but it if their response was that they couldn’t do anything about, they could.

          The same governance requires child protection measures, would the arts council still fund of there were complaints there?

          I wouldn’t expect them to monitor, but in light of complaints maybe dig a bit deeper as they should for any compliance and governance issue.

  3. Noel Kelly

    The Arts Council is a funding body and not a police force. Taking a pot shot at the Arts Council, in the way that this article does, shows a lack of considered understanding of the role of the Arts Council and how it works at arms length (through mutual agreement) with the creative sector.

      1. Cian

        Sam, If I were to give €5 to a homeless man begging on the side of the street and they spent that money on drugs – am I responsible?

        1. Listrade

          Depends if the money you give is from taxpayers or your own. Depends if your own rules of distributing money asks for a business plan that should include governance and legal compliance. Depends if the individual bought drugs and then went on to harm several people. Depends if someone came to you and told you they were doing this and you shrugged and gave the person more money and they bought more drugs and hurt more people.

          Not quite sure that analogy works to be honest.

        2. Sam

          Yes, Cian, cos a once off donation of a fiver is the same as ongoing funding of large sums, enough to pay the wages of someone for an entire year… You don’t really need this explained do you?

  4. Frilly Keane

    well it is their business now

    especially if they had a policy that no Arts Council employee was to in Michael Colgan’s company alone
    Like part of their own Health & Safety policy
    So by ignoring the fact that they put other people at risk by continuing to fund the organisation smacks of another example of “The Blind Eye”
    since there was a settlement (one that we know of anyway)
    did they investigate to ensure Grant funding wasn’t used to fund it and seek assurances that policies and procedures were put in place to ensure it didn’t happen again.

    I wonder tho
    how is a theatre
    known only to me to do traditional and commercial old favorites stuff
    Like Wilde Beckett etc
    the kinda stuff that runs regularly all over the world like
    how is it they receive grants at all
    any new play-writes
    or advant garde stuff done there?
    I dunno
    t’wouldn’t be my cuppa tay
    but it seems to be a commercial set up

    like paying out strong 6 figure wages
    and minding Michael Colgan like he was some sort of genius and State Asset

    ara’ tis all a bit jobs for the boys

    1. rotide

      “how is a theatre
      known only to me to do traditional and commercial old favorites stuff”

      The extent of your knowledge on a given subject isn’t the final word you know.

  5. King Alatriste Franco

    I could never understand how Colgan could trouser such a large wage. It will be interesting to read his statement when he releases it.

      1. Paddy at the Howth Summit

        “how Colgan could trouser such a large wage”

        Cough. Like it,

        I’d say he’ll never w**k in this town again (h/t Private Eye cover)

  6. Zoella

    This from the Indo: ‘Harassment and bullying is widespread in the arts community, according to a “startling” Behaviour & Attitudes survey…’ Pot, kettle.

    1. Lilly

      ‘Does the age gap bother you?’ ‘Not at all, if she does, she dies.’ LOL! He has a sense of humour at least. I presume Noelle is no longer in his life.

    1. rotide

      Breached employment regulations by the looks of things.

      Now compared to a rapist by certain twitter activists.

  7. Lilly

    I was surprised to hear that he intends to respond publicly to the allegations. Good on him for not taking the Terry Prone ‘brazen it out, say nothing and wait for it to blow over’ approach to crisis management. I suspect he’ll do a Ben Dunne ‘mea culpa’ instead. For cocaine and hookers, insert pints and shorts.

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