Saturday 18 November 2017

Former Gate director Colgan set to respond to allegations against him

Former Director of the Gate Theatre, Michael Colgan
Former Director of the Gate Theatre, Michael Colgan

Ryan Nugent and Kirsty Blake Knox

Former director of the Gate Theatre Michael Colgan is set to respond to allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against him by a number of women in the arts industry.

A number of claims have been made against the retired artistic director in recent weeks – which include inappropriate remarks. Until now he has not responded to any of these claims.

However, Mr Colgan has not indicated when exactly he will issue a response.

Theatre director and arts practitioner Grace Dyas was the first woman to speak out, and last night told RTÉ that Mr Colgan said to her: “You’ve lost so much weight, I’d almost have sex with you.”

Last week, the board of the Gate announced that it intends to appoint an independent HR adviser to deal with issues at the theatre. 

Meanwhile, Arts Minister Heather Humphreys is due to meet with the Arts Council in the coming days in light of the allegations.

The minister is due to raise a number of issues surrounding bullying.

The Arts Council is independent in its funding decision-making; however, it is understood that the minister keeps in close contact with its board on a range of issues.

Ms Humphreys called on victims of sexual harassment to come forward, at the Gate and in all industries.

“HR issues at the Gate Theatre are a matter for the management and board,” she said.

“It is up to each workplace to operate best practice on sexual harassment as outlined by law, and I understand that the management and board of the Gate Theatre are in the process of appointing an independent HR adviser to deal with any issues raised through a confidential email address.

“I would strongly encourage any victims of sexual harassment at the Gate Theatre, and any other organisation, to come forward, although I remain acutely aware that it takes considerable courage to do so.

“They must feel empowered to tell their stories without fear of personal or professional recrimination.

“At the same time, this should be balanced with the right to due process of any alleged perpetrator.”

Ms Humphreys is set to raise the findings of a recent behaviour and attitudes survey, which found that 60pc of those surveyed, mostly women in the arts sector, say they’ve been bullied.

The survey found that almost three-quarters of those who admitted to being bullied had not reported it because of fears it would have a negative effect on future job opportunities in the industry.

Other issues highlighted by large numbers included being the target of aggressive or obscene language, intimidation, or social exclusion.

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