Theatre in Wales

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The Wyeside Arts Centre in Builth Wells is threatened with closure. Artistic Director Guy Roderick asks for support:     

The Wyeside Arts Centre in Builth Wells is threatened with closure. Artistic Director Guy Roderick asks for support: Wyeside faces enforced closure this year. We don’t understand the reasons why.

Would you please consider signing this online petition to Wales’ Minister for Heritage, Rhodri Glyn Thomas? Click on the link at the end of this item.



If you know of anyone who would also be willing to support us by signing our petition, would you please forward this email to them?

Letters to the Minister supporting our appeal would add significant weight to our campaign. If you wish to send a letter please include your name and address to ensure a reply. A copy to us would be appreciated, or we can forward your letter for you.

His email address is: rhodri.thomas@wales.gov.uk..
His postal address is: National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF99 1NA.

Our address is: Wyeside Arts Centre, Castle St, Builth Wells, Powys, LD2 3BN.


On 25th January the Arts Council will be deciding which of its clients to cut. To impress upon them the level of support for Wyeside, we would like to encourage people to sign our petition by 21st January. We will continue to seek signatures and letters of support beyond that date to submit to the Minister for Heritage once the Arts Council of Wales and Powys County Council publicly announce their decisions concerning the future of Wyeside.

What follows is a brief background to our current situation.

On behalf of everyone at Wyeside, thank you very much for your help and support.

Guy Roderick.

Chief Executive & Artistic Director.



Background

There is ample evidence to show that Wyeside Arts Centre is an extremely efficient and effective arts venue, offering its funders and customers excellent financial and cultural value.

We have been explaining a crucial need for a relatively modest increase in revenue support for nearly ten years, to no avail. Instead we have been obliged to do everything possible to keep Wyeside open, involving considerable compromises at a cost to staff, patrons and our artistic aspirations. We have now reached the point where we can simply no longer continue without the improved revenue support we have been requesting.

The Arts Council of Wales sent its Senior Grants Monitoring Officer to review our finances last year. His report said: “margins have been squeezed to their potential maximum and this includes backroom staff at a bare minimum... the procedures followed are of best practice”. He also confirmed our need for extra revenue support.

This report had to be ‘leaked’ to our Assembly Member in order for us to see it. The Arts Council will not explain why they will not discuss the findings of their own report, even though it confirms that we have been achieving what they were specifically requesting of us as a condition of improved support.

Wyeside promotes and manages over 800 arts and cultural events a year. We operate 7 days – av. 85 hours - a week, open to the public 6 days a week; with an average 40,000 visits per year. Yet we can only afford three full time members of staff; the rest of us are part time, casual or volunteer. Nevertheless last year Wyeside became only the third arts centre in Wales to be awarded Investors in People status, with commendations for our achievements. Their assessor also confirmed our need for improved support.

Wyeside Arts Centre has been denied the significant levels of public subsidy awarded to comparable venues in Powys and Wales. There is an increasingly stark disparity in levels of public investment. We have asked for an explanation but none has been offered. We have asked our public funders to make a ‘best value’ audit and compare Wyeside with other arts venues, but they have been reluctant to do so; even though the National Assembly has also previously asked for comparisons to be made in the interests of best value.

Over the past five years Wyeside Arts Centre has managed to promote an average 60 live performances a year for an average £4,200 a year in subsidy; offering extraordinary value and demonstrating effective management. The Arts Council of Wales has an extra £1.5 million a year to support live show programmes in venues outside of Cardiff. Some theatres have been granted over £100,000 a year extra to support their programmes. Wyeside has been denied any support whatsoever from this fund. In Wales there are no clear rationales for the public agencies’ methods of investing the public’s money in Arts venues.

Wyeside is a victim of very poor administration of public money for the arts. At a time when public money for the arts is under such pressure it should not be unfair to expect our public agencies to invest our money prudently. They should be accountable for ensuring best value, rewarding best practice and meeting their priorities efficiently and effectively.

Direct appeals from the Chairmen of Wyeside to the Chairmen and Chief Executives of Powys County Council and the Arts Council of Wales to discuss our plight have been refused. Please help us to urge the Minister for Heritage to intervene and help us save the Wyeside Arts Centre, which has been providing a significant arts service for thirty years and a home to Wales’ longest-running cinema. There is no good reason why this excellent, much-valued arts centre should be forced to close.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.




Guy Roderick
Artistic & Executive Director
Wyeside Arts Centre

http://www.wyeside.co.uk/

Wyeside Arts Centre is an Investor In People


Wyeside Arts Centre, Builth Wells  
web site
: www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-wyeside-arts-centre.html
Guy Roderick
e-mail:
Tuesday, January 8, 2008back

 

 

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