Arnold says he would not have quit NCH board had he known of plans

Minister confirms concert hall to be put on statutory footing

A former leading board member of the National Concert Hall has said he would not have resigned had he known of Government plans to put the institution on a statutory basis.

Bruce Arnold said he was surprised at comments made by Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan about legislative plans for the governance of the institution.

Speaking at the publication yesterday of details of the forthcoming international concert series, Mr Deenihan said the coming period will be one of change at the NCH.

'Legislative reforms'
"The legislative reforms that we have planned for this institution will see the NCH being established on a statutory basis similar to other national cultural institutions and will greatly enhance the hall for performers, staff and the hundreds of thousands of people who visit each year. [These reforms] will be of considerable benefit to this great institution. I'm very positive about the future of the NCH as the leading venue for the highest standards of musical performance," Mr Deenihan said.


Mr Arnold, who along with four others quit the NCH board at its annual general meeting earlier this month, said last night: “If [Mr Deenihan] had taken this matter to Cabinet last year and got the speedy response that he got when eventually it went to the Government, though not through his offices, I would not have resigned eight months later.”

The Minister confirmed yesterday his department would support the NCH with €2.3 million for the coming year. He acknowledged this was a €500,000 drop on the figure for 2011 when he appointed Mr Arnold and others to the 15-member board.

The NCH wants to invest up to €50 million in a development programme that includes the provision of a smaller auditorium for chamber music.

Mr Deenihan said he hoped to be in a position to support the NCH in the redevelopment of the Kevin Barry room.

"This room was a witness to the treaty debates, historical events of great significance," he said. He added that Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin is "already in conversation about the redevelopment".