Calls to End Culture of Secrecy Threat to 2008; Officials Refuse to Clear Up Riddle over City Artistic Director Robyn Archer's Contract
Byline: BY SAM LISTER Daily Post Staff
A KEY player in Liverpool's Capital of Culture team was at the centre of a contract riddle last night amid rumours that she has failed to get a visa allowing her to work in the country.
Australian Robyn Archer was brought in as artistic director two years ago, responsible for producing the programme of celebrations for 2008, and is due to begin working in Liverpool full time this year.
But former council leader Mike Storey yesterday said he was planning to lodge questions with the council over her position, following claims that her contract has not yet been finalised and she has not been granted permission to work in the UK.
The Capital of Culture Company last night refused to clear up the mystery, insisting that Ms Archer's employment status was a private matter.
But Cllr Storey said: "Robyn Archer was a high-level appointment. She has a proven track record as an artistic director and is very highly thought of and I would not be critical of her.
"In terms of her position, however, there have been all sorts of rumours that her visa has not been granted and her contract has not been signed.
"When I was involved, there were lawyers still poring over the contracts.
"I do know she wants to have time off built into her contract so she can continue to perform, which might be one of the reasons.
"The Culture Company needs to be up-front about this. They can't just say this is a personal matter. The people of Liverpool are paying her salary.
"Until we know exactly what the problem is, we do not know if it can be resolved. If it is a problem with the visa, then it is potentially serious.
"It is a key position and we have a right to know what is happening. I will be asking the question at the next council meeting."
Ms Archer has more than a decade's experience in organising large-scale international events.
She is a performer, writer and director and in 2000 was made an Officer of the Order of Australia and the Chevalier du l'Odre des Arts at des Lettres in Canberra.
Her CV also includes prestigious positions such as artistic director of the National Festival of Australian Theatre, and of the Adelaide Festival in 1998, as well as chairwoman of the Australian Council's Community Development Board.
She has been "distance working" since her appointment in 2004, using the internet and email to keep in contact with the culture team as well as making occasional trips to Liverpool. …