Shock as arts centre managers quit

By David LennardA POWER struggle at an arts centre has led to the resignation of three of its management team.The Cut arts centre in Halesworth was opened by actor Sir Alan Bates in October 2003 and has established itself as a major force in the area promoting a wide range of events including music, theatre, dance, comedy, cinema, workshops and exhibitions.

By David Lennard

A POWER struggle at an arts centre has led to the resignation of three of its management team.

The Cut arts centre in Halesworth was opened by actor Sir Alan Bates in October 2003 and has established itself as a major force in the area promoting a wide range of events including music, theatre, dance, comedy, cinema, workshops and exhibitions.

But behind the scenes there have been serious disagreements over how the centre should be run in the future involving the trustees and the three-man management team.

Now Charlotte Du Cann, Jo Sanderson and Mark Watson have resigned from their managerial positions at The Cut.

In a joint statement issued yesterday they said: “In recent months the three-strong team have taken over the running of The Cut arts centre in Halesworth, re-establishing it as a vibrant place for the arts in East Anglia.

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“However, in talks with the trustees it became apparent that our vision for the future was not in line with the 'old regime'.

“Instead of allowing the centre to be run by a co-operative team with the community, the trustees elected to maintain their five-year control over the place and reduced the role of management to administration.”

The managers said the changes they were introducing had been having the desired impact and making The Cut a vibrant and friendly place to visit.

They did not believe that a successful arts centre could be run on voluntary help alone and that the “hard work, discipline, creative and co-ordinating skills” necessary for it to thrive were qualities expected from a salaried responsible management team.

“Although we fully appreciated the trustees created this project, we were also aware the centre was built largely with public money for the public to enjoy and this we wanted to honour,” said the managers' statement.

But the trustees of The Cut defended the way the arts centre was run and said it was in a “robust and healthy” state with an exciting future ahead.

Simon Raven, chairman of the trustees, said: “The resignations of these three members of staff is deeply regretted by the trustees - they had made a big difference to the working of The Cut and had been much appreciated by all concerned with the success of the venture.”

He added the trustees had made it clear to staff that they could not afford to pay high wages as the centre did not receive subsidies or grants from the Arts Council or local authorities.

“Staff were told upon appointment that pay would be reviewed at the end of the financial year (April 2005) and the trustees had already agreed to a modest rise in line with increased income on February 4 just before we were faced with a 'take it or leave it' pay demand way beyond our means to respond,” said Mr Raven.

But he added the programme of events planned for this year would continue as advertised.

david.lennard@eadt.co.uk

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