Artist Says Boss Must Quit Gallery; REPORT HIGHLIGHTS 'WORRYING LACK OF SKILLS'

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), January 13, 2010 | Go to article overview

Artist Says Boss Must Quit Gallery; REPORT HIGHLIGHTS 'WORRYING LACK OF SKILLS'


Byline: AMY HUNT

AN ARTIST at the centre of an unfair dismissal claim against his former boss has called for her resignation.

A report found into the running of Newcastle's Waygood Gallery said those in charge did not have the skills needed to manage a multimillion pound revamp. The review, by consultant Susan Royce, recommends the gallery's board should be changed and chair Esther Salamon should leave, but stops short of calling for chief executive Helen Smith to go.

In November Ms Smith was criticised by an employment tribunal panel which found artist Topsy Qur'et had been unfairly dismissed from his job with Waygood.

Her behaviour towards staff was described as "not normal and unpredictable" after the tribunal heard Mr Qur'et was sacked after being accused of "staring" at his boss in an intimidating fashion, evidence the panel found to be "entirely lacking in credibility".

Mr Qur'et said today: "I am disappointed Susan Royce's report does not call for Helen Smith and Esther Salamon to leave Waygood immediately. They were prepared to try to stain my character with a serious allegation of intimidation that was completely unfounded."

The city council and Arts Council commissioned the review into the management of Waygood after a nightmare year for the gallery.

In June it was revealed the project to refurbish the former Wards print factory complex on High Bridge to house the gallery had run five years behind schedule and over budget by almost pounds 6m. Then in October a report accused council officers of mismanaging the gallery project. Ms Royce's report found the gallery's business plan was neither realistic nor viable and there was a "worrying lack of strategic and management skills" among staff. …

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