RTÉ to review role in musicmaking - Orchestras must be sustained

This week the Paradise Papers showed what lengths investors will go to minimise tax bills. 

RTÉ Concert Orchestra

Even if that objective is often achieved legally this week’s report that there are about 684,800 people on hospital waiting lists underlined just one consequence flowing from that affront to social responsibility, one that gravely limits governments’ capacity to support vital social services.

Yesterday’s announcement that RTÉ is to review the roles of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra is another consequence of public service budgets diminished by offshore shadow boxing with revenue authorities. In the orchestras’ case, that situation is exacerbated by the destruction of traditional revenue streams by ever-more powerful international entities — the very entities who maximise offshore accountancy opportunities.

Such a review is appropriate — as long as it is understood that these orchestras are the very heartbeat of Irish musical life and that they must be sustained. Whether that is under the RTÉ flag or not is a secondary question.

What is no longer in question is that as we better understand the impact nationless businesses have on societies’ viability a unified, transnational response was never more necessary. Would new, 32-county “national” orchestras be an appropriate and symbolic response to the difficulties facing this island’s public service broadcasters?


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