Release of Gate report into Colgan behaviour not in my remit – expert
Author of report is disappointed and ‘a bit surprised’ it is not fully published
Former Gate Theatre director Michael Colgan. Gaye Cunningham’s report found he had ‘a case to answer’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The author of a report into allegations of inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power by the Gate Theatre’s former artistic director, Michael Colgan, has expressed disappointment it was not released in full.
Gaye Cunningham said she was “a bit surprised” the theatre did not release the review in full. The report describes behaviours, not specific incidents, according to the workplace relations expert.
Ms Cunningham was commissioned by the board of the Gate to conduct the independent review following allegations against Mr Colgan, including by seven women who detailed their experiences in The Irish Times.
“My task was to sit, receive the testimony, record, write the report and deliver to the board. It was just not my job to decide whether to publish,” she said, adding she made it clear to participants that she couldn’t give them sight of the review before it went to the board. “The confidentiality of the report was in the context of their protection,” she said.
Ms Cunningham heard 56 people’s testimony and delivered the review to the board of the Gate this month. The board issued a statement about the four-month review and published its recommendations/conclusion and methodology.
The report found Mr Colgan had “a case to answer” and said “a culture existed in the Gate whereby too much power was vested in one individual and people felt unable to speak out”.
Last weekend the theatre’s chairman, Peter Crowley, said its lawyers had advised against publishing the full review because of undertakings on confidentiality for those who took part. A number of theatre professionals who had participated in the process expressed disappointment and anger about the decision.
Mr Crowley said the board’s objectives were to be “as open and transparent as possible”, but that it could not “run legal risks that would put the theatre in jeopardy”.
Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said on Tuesday she “accepted the Gate’s constraints” on foot of its legal review, and that “it is not for me to decide if the independent review is published”.
The Minister has met the chairman and director of the Gate, who affirmed their commitment to implementing the recommendations, and next week she is meeting representatives of the 72 female theatre professionals who wrote an open letter to The Irish Times, “to hear their concerns first hand”.
Ms Cunningham said that while she had hoped the board would be in a position to release the full report, it was not in her remit to decide what was published. “I don’t want people to feel I let them down,” she said. “I didn’t promise publication. I didn’t have the authority to make that decision. I conducted the review in good faith.”
The Gate board and the Minister are supporting an Irish Theatre Institute initiative next month to establish a code of conduct for the theatre sector.
Mr Colgan has declined to comment on the record, aside from writing an article in the Sunday Independent where he took “serious issue” with some coverage, saying his actions should not be equated with sexual crimes. He apologised for causing distress, saying he had failed to see the difference between friends and colleagues.