‘There will always be challenges facing music and musicians in Ireland’: Music Alliance Ireland Holds First Public Meeting at National Concert Hall
A new group of national music organisations and companies, Music Alliance Ireland/Comhaontas Ceoil na hÉireann, held its first public meeting on 28 April as part of the New Music Dublin festival at the National Concert Hall.
The group was formed at the beginning of the pandemic to establish a collective voice for the music sector and has been involved in a number of advocacy campaigns since.
The current members are the Contemporary Music Centre, Crash Ensemble, Diatribe Records, Improvised Music Company, The Journal of Music, Kirkos Ensemble, Music Network and Trad Ireland/Traid Éireann. The group meets ten times a year and is open to new members.
The meeting was chaired by musician Nick Roth of Diatribe and project manager Neva Elliott, formerly CEO of Crash Ensemble. Commenting on the reasons for establishing the group, Roth said:
Music Alliance Ireland aspires to be a collective voice for music in Ireland. There will always be challenges facing music and musicians in Ireland. Most recently, we had the pandemic, but before that it was the threat to Lyric FM, and before that it was the difficulties facing the national orchestras. On top of that, we have the perennial issues of low pay for musicians and the difficulty they have in finding places to live in Ireland, the small size of our independent record label sector, the lack of rehearsal space in Dublin, and more. The only way we can address any of these issues for the long term is by joining together.
Music Alliance Ireland was initiated in the spring of 2020 by Elliott and Aoife Concannon of Improvised Music Company, in partnership with the Arts Office of Dublin City Council. The group has since developed six main aims, as follows:
1. To establish a national network and voice for music organisations and musicians in Ireland;
2. To advocate for support and policies for music at a national level;
3. To work for the establishment of a music hub (a space for rehearsal, collaboration, offices, equipment, recording, storage and performance) in Dublin and equivalent spaces in other centres around Ireland;
4. To campaign for proper pay for musicians;
5. To further the provision for music from Ireland in Irish broadcasting and media; and
6. To support the development of the Irish independent record label sector.
The group takes inspiration from the previous MAI – the Music Association of Ireland – which ran from the 1940s to the 2000s, and also had six aims, one of which was the establishment of the National Concert Hall.
Elliott also spoke about her reasons for initiating the group:
I was previously CEO of Crash Ensemble, and what I wasn’t able to do as one person, and one organisation, was to effect change on the wider ecosystem we existed in. That frustration wasn’t just around making things better for Crash, but also for the artists around us, artists that were our community and coming to me to ask for help and advice. I could see there were opportunities we were missing out on as a sector, and at times we weren’t standing up strongly enough and asking for what we need, or pointing out when things weren’t right for us. I believe in doing things together, that together we can effect that change.
The group has already published a number of submissions advocating for the music sector, including submissions to the Arts Council’s music policy, the Future of Media Commission, RTÉ Lyric FM, the Dublin City Council Cultural Infrastructural Study, the Dublin City Development Plan, and the Basic Income for the Arts pilot.
Music Alliance Ireland will be hosting regional meetings in the coming months and will also be publishing details on joining for new members.
Among those in attendance at the NCH were a number of representatives from member organisations, as well as Robert Read, CEO of the National Concert Hall; Michael Dervan, classical music critic of the Irish Times; Karina Lundstrom of Lundstrom Arts Management; composer Raymond Deane; Dermot O’Callaghan of Sing Ireland; Red Keane of Jazz Ireland; Keith Johnson and Breffni Banks of IMRO; Joe Csibi, General Manager of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra; Tadhg Kinsella of Dublin Modular; and Majella Hollywood of Chamber Choir Ireland.
For further details, and to sign up to the group’s newsletter, visit https://musicallianceireland.ie.