Members of Limerick’s arts community have come together to voice their concern at the recent announcement of the withdrawal of RTÉ Lyric fm from its base in the city centre. The move was announced by RTÉ's Director General Dee Forbes, as part of overall cost-saving measures at the station. Lyric fm is to be retained but its production is to be relocated from Limerick to Cork and Dublin.
There was widespread dismay at the announcement which caught, not just the public, but also staff at the Limerick studios by surprise. Condemnation of the move has been voiced among the arts community who argue that moving Lyric out of Limerick would have a detrimental effect on the city, which welcomed the station as part of RTÉ's decentralisation programme in 1998.
Speaking at a pop-up musical event at the Irish Chamber Orchestra Studios on the UL Campus on Thursday, attended by the Irish Chamber Orchestra, members of several of Limerick's choral groups, students of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and members of the public, Louise Donlon, Director of the Lime Tree Theatre and former Arts Council member said : "RTÉ Lyric fm’s presence is of huge importance in Limerick; the closure of its studio in the city would be an enormous loss to the entire region, but will be especially felt by the arts and cultural sectors. Lyric is at the heart of our cultural life here, both in terms of its location in the Cornmarket area of the city, but also its support and promotion of the arts and culture in the region. If this is allowed to happen, balanced regional development will be unimplementable and will mean nothing. What employee will ever consider decentralisation in the future if decisions can be reversed 10, 15 or 20 years down the line, with no thought to the impact on people’s lives and families?”
Irish Chamber Orchestra CEO Gerry Keenan also pointed out the vacuum in the city’s vital arts infrastructure should Lyric's Limerick base be removed: “RTÉ Lyric fm along with ICO are an integral part of cultural life in Limerick, sharing classical music with the widest possible audiences on the airwaves, while integrating with communities and the arts citywide. We are dismayed at RTÉ’s proposed fragmentation of RTÉ Lyric fm. We at ICO work closely with staff and colleagues at Lyric fm and together with our neighbouring Troy Studios, University Concert Hall, Irish World Academy and the Limerick arts community, pride ourselves as one of the country’s foremost cultural hubs. Lyric’s role in advocating for the artist and building new audiences for us here at ICO has been inestimable. We fully endorse UL’s drive and support for culture under the leadership of UL President, Des Fitzgerald and see the proposed relocation of RTÉ Lyric fm as short-sighted with a long-term negative impact, both culturally and economically, not only here in Limerick but all over Ireland".