Mid Wales

Petition over Aberystwyth Arts Centre suspensions

Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Image caption Aberystwyth Arts Centre is based on the university's main campus

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition protesting at what they claim is the suspension of two managers at an arts centre at Aberystwyth University.

Campaigners claim planned changes at Aberystwyth Arts Centre will be undermined by "heavy-handed restructuring".

They are calling for arts centre director Alan Hewson and operations manager Auriel Martin to be reinstated.

The university said it had not confirmed or denied staff suspensions.

The online petition was started by Stephen West.

On the petition on Change.org, Mr West claimed: "Aberystwyth Arts Centre is threatened by heavy-handed restructuring and destabilisation by the university and suspension of its two senior managers.

"It's important to note that the arts centre will have no deficit this year. The threatened changes are about asset stripping a public arts resource built up by public money."

The National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke, from Llandysul, Ceredigion, has backed the campaign to reinstate the arts centre managers.

"The Aberystwyth Arts Centre is the heart of cultural life in Ceredigion," she said on the petition website.

"It is successful, welcoming, busy, a centre for the public to meet each other and the artists performing or showing there.

"If only our other university arts centres were as good. As National Poet for Wales, when Alan Hewson asked me and Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, to read at the festival of architecture, we gladly agreed.

"Without his warmth and efficiency, we would not have committed ourselves."

In a statement, Aberystwyth University said it was "disappointed and saddened" by various messages circulating which seem intended to increase public concern about the future of "our excellent arts centre".

"Many of the responses we have received, to which we are of course responding individually, stress the happy mixture of university and community use which is currently characteristic of the arts centre - but this is exactly what we want to preserve and enhance," said the statement.

"The university categorically states that there is not and has not been any university plan to reduce or limit public and community access to the arts centre.

'Duty of care'

"The forthcoming arts centre strategic plan, which has been approved by the centre's own advisory board and the University's Council, makes it clear that it is the intention of the university and the arts centre to continue providing excellent facilities, performances, courses and events for the broader community."

The statement added: "The university has a duty of care to all its staff and it takes this obligation very seriously.

"Aberystwyth University has not confirmed or denied alleged suspension of staff in any public statement or to any press or media, and will not do so."

The arts centre was in the headlines in February after police stopped a dance music event temporarily there when they were told a baby was in the audience.

Aberystwyth University said music at the Black House gig was stopped so the mother and baby could be found, but it is understood they had already left.

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