Newpark Academy of Music Staff Call on Board to Resign

Newpark Academy of Music Staff Call on Board to Resign

Staff and teachers seeking to ensure survival of 45-year-old music school with over 600 students.

The staff and teachers of the Newpark Academy of Music in Dublin have asked the Board to resign following its decision to close the school.

The Board issued a letter to teachers and staff on 22 May saying the Academy would cease trading on 1 June. It said that the decision ‘was made in light of the unsustainable trading and financial position the Company finds itself in.’

The staff argue that the 45-year-old music school with over 600 students is too important to music in south Dublin and the surrounding area to close and that further options should be explored. No details have been made available to staff regarding the specific issues that make it unsustainable. Newpark Music Centre Company Limited had a turnover of €439k in 2022 and carried a €32k deficit coming out of the pandemic, but according to Director Hilda Chan, numbers were increasing again, it was in profit in 2023 and on track to be profitable in 2024. There were also no issues with paying staff. In a letter to the Board on 24 May, Chan said the statement that the business was unsustainable was ‘misleading and inaccurate’.

The Academy has 42 staff and is located in Melfield House on Newtownpark Avenue in Blackrock on the premises of Newpark Comprehensive School. Melfield House, which is owned by the Department of Education, is over 200 years old and in need of renovation, but no issues relating to the building were mentioned in the letter from the Board. Newpark Academy of Music is a registered charity and is primarily funded by tuition fees with no regular state support.

In her letter to the Board, Chan said that the Board ‘no longer have the support or confidence of the staff and teachers’ and that its ‘repeated failure to engage in dialogue and consultation is an insult to the hard work and years of dedication of the staff at the Academy.’ She also said that the Board ‘ignored calls to look at the alternative options to winding up’. 

Speaking to the Journal of Music, Chan said that the Board had told her in February to pause re-enrollments for 2024/25, but no further information followed. She met with the staff at the beginning of May to discuss the issue and together they sent a letter to the Board seeking further clarification, but no further details were provided until the closure letter of 22 May. Staff members also state that nine days is insufficient notice for the closure of a company and is in breach of company legislation. The Academy’s Board has been contacted for a response.

The staff have reached out to local representatives and a meeting is taking place today. Chan and staff are also looking at other possible premises. ‘Our main focus is the music education for the next generation,’ she added.

Newpark Academy of Music was founded in 1979 and previous Musical Directors have included Simon Taylor, Nigel Flegg and Grace Tallon. As well as individual and group tuition the Academy runs choirs and ensembles. The Academy developed a particular reputation for jazz and, through the work of Ronan Guilfoyle, it developed a jazz degree that was accredited by Berklee College of Music in Boston. The degree transferred to Dublin City University in 2017 which allowed the Academy to grow further. The current head of jazz is drummer Kevin Brady. Past students of Newpark Academy include drummer Rory Doyle who tours with Hozier, singer Aoife Doyle, and drummer Sean Carpio, a previous member of the Louis Stewart Quintet. A petition to show support for the school is available here.


Published on 27 May 2024

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