The Public watch: No.4

There’s never much time between revelations, but even Sylvia King who conceived The Public nightmare is shocked this week, as one exec whom she and Sandwell Council would gladly off-load a decent amount of the flak on walks away with £211,000 redundancy (Express & Star).


Sally Luton, currently chief executive of Arts Council England: West Midlands, has fallen victim to restructuring and will consequently pocket this money and make her escape in June 2010, but many have accused Luton and the Arts Council of keeping a low profile with regards to the part they played in this disastrous gallery project.


New Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper laments, “Sandwell Council has had to drag the Arts Council out of this mess”, and worth noting his acknowledgement that the situation is a mess and his assertion that they’re somehow out of it.


Not in the opinion of art critic Rupert Christiansen who wrote in the Daily Telegraph yesterday that the building was a “monstrous black shed”, further commenting:


“Staff are enthusiastic and motivated and everyone is trying their damnedest to bring this abortion to life. But why has their never been an investigation into this fiasco?”


Why indeed, and yet many shudder at the prospect of throwing yet more public cash at this ‘community arts’ catastrophe.


King and Sandwell Council have every right to feel bitter that Sally Luton has wriggled out from under the shadow of The Public relatively unscathed and inappropriately well compensated, but then those of us who have been following the scandal will really have to try hard to feel stunned or aghast after so many years of similar stories and the ongoing total lack of accountability.


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