Report into Michael Colgan behaviour not to be published

Publication would breach confidentiality of participants, says Gate Theatre board

The review had input from 56 people, which included current and former employees including Michael Colgan, above, freelance staff and board members. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The review had input from 56 people, which included current and former employees including Michael Colgan, above, freelance staff and board members. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The report into allegations of inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power against the former artistic director of the Gate Theatre Michael Colgan will not be published.

The theatre board says its legal advice indicates that to release the full review would breach the guarantee of confidentiality given to the 56 people who spoke to the inquiry.

Gate chairman Peter Crowley told The Irish Times that “following a thorough legal review, the board has been strongly advised that release of the full review is not appropriate in the context of the undertakings provided on confidentiality to those that took part in the review”.

Two weeks ago the theatre’s board apologised unreservedly to “those who experienced the behaviours reported” to workplace relations expert Gaye Cunningham, as part of an independent review commissioned by the theatre’s board.

Theatre professionals “felt unable to invoke existing grievance procedures and where a culture existed in the Gate which was not conducive to people speaking out freely,” the board said.

‘A case to answer’

On February 9th, the Gate board released a substantial statement about the four-month independent review and published its 14 recommendations. The theatre commissioned it in November, following allegations against Mr Colgan, including by seven women who detailed their experiences in The Irish Times.

Ms Cunningham’s report said Mr Colgan had “a case to answer in respect to dignity at work issues, abuse of power and inappropriate behaviours” and that “a culture existed in the Gate whereby too much power was vested in one individual and people felt unable to speak out”.

The review had input from 56 people, which included current and former employees including Mr Colgan, freelance staff and board members. All recordings and documents were destroyed following compilation of the review.

Mr Crowley said: “From the outset we have been as transparent as possible about this process and its outcome. We have moved swiftly to communicate what actions we would take in response to the recommendations outlined by Ms Cunningham.”

He said the “recommendations issued with our statement will remain in the public domain”.

Declined to comment

Mr Crowley declined to comment about Mr Colgan, but said “as a board we are committed to delivering in full on the recommendations included in the independent review”. One of the 14 recommendations says “the board should consider what action, if any should be taken, acknowledging that he is no longer an employee”.

In response to a question about whether some who took part in the review might be disappointed it was not being published, Mr Crowley said the board had worked to make the process as strong and transparent as possible, and that he and the board were very happy to engage with any of the participants, or others, who have any ongoing concerns about the process.

Sarah Durcan, a former theatre professional who participated in the Gate review, was taken aback last night at the decision not to release it.

“I think the Gate should publish the report because not doing so opens up other difficulties for the theatre, and for the women and men who participated in the process, and questions about who or what they are protecting – the theatre, the people who participated, or Michael Colgan.”

‘Very concerning’

Her understanding, while taking part in the review, was that as much as possible of it would be published. “After two weeks of a legal process it is very concerning that this is the result. It doesn’t help the process of addressing sexual harassment if there isn’t transparent reporting of what has gone on,” she said.

The Gate Theatre is contributing to the Speak Up and Call it Out: Establishing a Code of Conduct, a theatre sector event led by Irish Theatre Institute, supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in Liberty Hall on March 21st. Mr Crowley said the theatre will be sharing what it has learned from the process.

Mr Colgan has declined to comment bar 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.