Mid Wales

Aberystwyth Arts Centre suspensions petition delivered

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Media captionGillian Clarke (left) and Stephen West (second right) present the petition to vice-chancellor Prof April McMahon (right)

A 1,700-signature petition in support of two managers allegedly suspended at Aberystwyth Arts Centre has been delivered to the university.

The National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke presented it to the university's vice-chancellor calling for their reinstatement.

The university has not confirmed or denied any staff suspensions.

Vice-chancellor Prof April McMahon said a meeting with Ms Clarke afterwards was "constructive".

In February police stopped a dance music event at the arts centre after being told a baby was in the audience.

The online petition was started by Stephen West, who delivered it with Ms Clarke on Friday morning, and has been supported by 1,749 people.

In it, he claimed: "Aberystwyth Arts Centre is threatened by heavy-handed restructuring and destabilisation by the university and suspension of its two senior managers."

They have called for director Alan Hewson and operations manager Auriel Martin to be reinstated.

Ms Clarke, from Llandysul, Ceredigion, has backed the campaign in support of the pair.

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

Mr West claims the suspensions came at a time when the university was planning a re-structure, and said officials had been "hiding behind this issue of confidentiality" to avoid explaining their plans.

Prof McMahon and senior pro vice-chancellor Prof Aled Jones met Mr West and Ms Clarke to hear their concerns about Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Friday.

'Fully committed'

"This morning's meeting was constructive," said Prof McMahon.

"We weren't able to agree on everything and there were certain areas we've not been able to discuss.

Image caption The university denies any plans to radically change the arts centre

"For instance, the university contests the accusations of heavy handed restructuring and asset stripping, on which the petition we received is predicated.

"However, the lines of communication are open and there can be no doubt that we have a shared commitment to the arts in mid and west Wales.

"There are no plans to radically change the use of the arts centre or to exclude any member of the community. The university is fully committed artistically and financially to the arts centre and to the excellent programme of performances and events it offers."

Prof McMahon said over the past five years the university had provided £5.1m from its core budget towards the "day to day running and capital infrastructure costs of the arts centre".

The arts centre was in the headlines in February after police temporarily stopped a dance music event 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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