Gate asks for ‘forbearance’ during inquiry into possible abuse

Theatre responds to 72 women concerned about inquiry

The Gate Theatre has asked theatre professionals “for their forbearance and to reserve judgment until the completion” of its review into allegations of abuse and harassment at the theatre.

The board, chaired by Peter Crowley, was responding on Wednesday night to a statement signed by 72 women working in theatre which expressed "grave concerns" about the internal inquiry.

The board said Gaye Cunningham, who was appointed last November to conduct an independent review into allegations of misconduct by the Dublin theatre's former artistic director Michael Colgan, has "complete and total autonomy to undertake this review".

It said she would deal in a “confidential but transparent manner with any complaints and allegations in relation to inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power by the former director of the Gate Theatre”.


Adjudication officer

Ms Cunningham, a Workplace Relations Commission adjudication officer, is to report to the Gate board this month. The board said it intends to be open about her findings and act on her recommendations.

A Gate spokeswoman was unable to clarify whether the report would be published or shared, how many people have spoken to the inquiry, or how it would be handled, “as we’re not in possession of this information”.

The board said all stakeholders have acknowledged total confidence in Ms Cunningham’s capabilities and impartiality.

In their statement, published in Wednesday's Irish Times, the 72 signatories did not question Ms Cunningham's integrity but raised concerns that the board could act upon her findings "with impartiality".

Accused of bullying

Mr Colgan, who has been accused of bullying and inappropriate touching, did not reply to a request for a response on Wednesday night.

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan on Wednesday night stressed her commitment to measures to eliminate workplace harassment in the arts and culture sector. She said her department is working with the Irish Theatre Institute on finding "an appropriate way forward for the theatre sector on this sensitive topic".

The Arts Council said it has "tightened up" the conditions it attaches to funding arts organisations. It has reworked sections in its conditions – about child protection of children, health and safety, data protection, discrimination and equal opportunities.

Funding recipients are required to have “appropriate policies dealing with workplace bullying and harassment” and “must avoid any form of discriminatory practice”.

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times