Seeking pay equity, Irish composer turns down Arts Council commission

Posted on: July 26, 2018

“The news that an established Irish composer declined a lucrative Arts Council commission on the basis of gender bias has to be a matter for serious concern,” writes Michael Dervan in Wednesday’s (7/25) Irish Times (Dublin). An earlier Irish Times article reported that “composer Siobhán Cleary, a member of [Irish artists’ association] Aosdána, had ‘turned down a large commission from two Arts Council-funded bodies because she was offered 20 per cent less than her male colleagues were in the last four years, for the same commission.’… [Cleary] has actually opened a can of worms that goes well beyond the issue of gender inequality. One of the core problems with the Arts Council’s music commission scheme is that … there are no clear or consistent relationships between the fees awarded and the durations of the pieces, the reputations of the composers or the promised dissemination of the commissioned works by the commissioners. Simply put, equal pay in any sense is just not on the agenda for panels considering Arts Council music commission awards. This is a long-standing situation and it will do nothing to enhance the council’s reputation for fairness—or for achieving gender balance in the size of awards—until the scheme is radically reformed.”

Posted July 26, 2018