28 Feb 2018

Anger erupts over theater's decision not to publish misconduct report

The board of Dublin’s Gate Theatre, one of Ireland’s longest running theaters, announced this week it will not release a report detailing allegations of inappropriate behavior and abuse of power by the theatre’s former artistic director.

Ciara Kenny
Ciara Kenny The Irish Times, Ireland
Source: The Irish Times
Anger erupts over theater's decision not to publish misconduct report - NewsMavens
Gate Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The decision to withhold details about Michael Colgan's alleged abuses of power and inappropriate behavior has angered and disappointed some of the women who took part in the investigation, as Deirdre Falvey reports.

“[It's] incredibly insulting to the people who took part in it not to be part of a transparent process," said Lian Bell of Waking the Feminists, a grassroots movement for women in Irish theatre.

Another woman who contributed to the report said she and others expected their stories to be shared. Keeping the report under wraps opens the theater up to accusations of cover-up or whitewash, she added.

The women say the Gate Theatre board could anonymize testimony or ask the contributors to waive their guarantee of anonymity, so the facts of the case can come out.

The Gate Theatre, and the Irish theater sector as a whole, has an opportunity now for comprehensive reform, to strive for greater diversity and equality, and to stamp out the abusive behaviour and harassment which has brought it into the spotlight in recent months.

Whether the Gate report is published or not, what is important now is the action the theater takes. The report concluded that Colgan had “a case to answer”. Its response to this finding, and the report’s other conclusions and recommendations, will be what ensures the testimonies of the 56 people who contributed to the investigation were not made in vain.

women's issues,gender,human rights

Details from the story:

  • An investigation began into the behavior of Gate Theatre director Michael Colgan after writer-producer Grace Dyas wrote a blog post in November 2017 about an experience with Michael Colgan in a Dublin pub.
  • Six other women subsequently came forward alleging harassment and inappropriate behavior agains Colgan.
  • Workplace relations expert Gay Cunningham interviewed 56 people as part of the Gate Theatre investigation.
  • The report found a "culture existed in the Gate whereby too much power was vested in one individual and people felt unable to speak out" and that Colgan had "a case to answer."
  • The board announce it would not publish the full report to protect the confidentiality of those who participated and to avoid "legal risks that would put the theatre in jeopardy."
  • The decision came two weeks after the theatre’s board apologised unreservedly to “those who experienced the behaviours reported” to the review.
  • Activist Lian Bell has called on the board to take “some kind of action on what is in that report that is visible, seismic, and transparent" or else "they will have damaged the reputation of the theatre even further.”
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