OPEN LETTER FROM THE ASSOCIATION OF IRISH COMPOSERS
Dear Ms Dee Forbes and the RTÉ Board of Directors,
We are shocked at recent suggestions that RTÉ lyric fm may be shut down. The station is RTÉ’s only outlet for the cutting edge artistic voices that play a major role in justifying Ireland’s image of itself as a global cultural powerhouse. The contemporary classical composers represented by the AIC are one cohort who thrive partly because of the station’s existence, while many other minority genres benefit alongside us – not least lyric’s own radio producers, who are regularly nominated for international prizes for their work for the station.
Direct benefits to Irish composers of the existence of lyric fm include broadcasts of our music (a financial lifeline as well as the largest audience most of us are likely to find), commissions, residencies, well-produced portrait CD releases, EU-wide broadcasts of Irish music via the European Broadcasting Union, recording of live concerts, representation at the International Rostrum of Composers etc. If lyric fm is axed, none of this will be taken up by other parts of the Irish media: lyric’s closure will deal a lethal blow to our sector.
RTÉ is required, under the Broadcasting Act of 2009, to cover minority tastes and to support arts and culture, the Irish language and effect regional balance in its service. It is required to achieve a balance between entertainment, information and education, with specific reference to the whole island's unique cultural identity. In short, as the act itself puts it, RTÉ is required to act like a public service broadcaster, a term widely understood to include these areas.
RTÉ's unique selling point is simply all the things that we will never get from Newstalk, Netflix, or Google—the social aims of public service, the historical intertwining of RTÉ and the nation's self-image, the furtherance of non-commercial cultural strands in the nation's identity, and the actual remunerative support to Irish artists such as writers, playwrights, orchestral musicians, songwriters, composers etc.
Aside from this, lyric fm is treasured by its listeners – 6% of Ireland’s population each week, over 270,000 people. The outpouring of support for the station over the past couple of weeks surely can’t be ignored, even if RTÉ is attempting to shirk its role as a public service broadcaster.
Lyric fm’s budget is very small in terms of its contribution to Irish society, but also in the scheme of RTÉ’s overall budget. Closing the station would make little difference to the broadcaster’s bottom line, but would be an act of vandalism on our cultural landscape. It must not happen.
Sebastian Adams, Elaine Agnew, Derek Ball, Alyson Barber, Enda Bates, David Bremner, Patrick Brennan, John Buckley, Linda Buckley, Greg Caffrey, Pat Coldrick, Robert Coleman, Niamh Conroy, David Coonan, Frank Corcoran, Massimo Davi, Raymond Deane, Donnacha Dennehy, Fergal Dowling, Michael Gallen, Richard Gill, Deirdre Gribbin, Michael Holohan, Fergus Johnston, Mary Kelly, Vincent Kennedy, Jenn Kirby, Julia Mahon, Bernadette Marmion, Daniel McDermott, Anselm McDonnell, Deirdre McKay, John McLachlan, Monica Miuccio, Ryan Molloy, Peter Moran, Christopher Moriarty, Gerard Murphy, Jonathan Nangle, Rachel Ní Chuinn, Ailis Ní Riain, Kevin O'Connell, Jane O'Leary, Martin O'Leary, Karen Power, Judith Ring, Nick Roth, Garrett Sholdice, Kevin Volans, Jennifer Walshe, Ian Wilson
Association of Irish Composers