Yes, another chapter in the sorry tale of Chapter, the Welsh arts centre in Cardiff.
In the early 2000’s And had a run in with Andy, yes, Andy Muse had a run in with the now director of Chapter, Andy Eagle. At the time Andy Eagle was the director of Brecon Theatre. He contracted Andy Muse to deliver rope work and safety for a performance ‘Commotion in the Ocean’. Andy organised two simultaneous abseils from the gangways above the stage. When invoicing the theatre Andy Eagle said oh no, not ours to pay but the theatre companies expense, and then there was a long dispute which resulted in Andy Muse not being paid very much at all…
Then in 2010 Chapter laid off many staff and reduced the hours of those they retained in favour of delivering more of their services by the use of intern and volunteer labour. In 2011 Andy Eagle was made director of Chapter, this after the late 2000’s overspend of millions by a board who’s hubris was off the scale.
Andy questioned Andy and the now director of Chapter said quite clearly that Chapter could not function without volunteer or interns being key to employees. This is not acceptable. It is NEVER acceptable! Since when is it OK for a publicly funded body to sack paid staff and replace them with free labour?
As of that time Andy Muse has been a vocal opponent of Cardiff’s flagship arts centre, seeing it as more a corporate showcase than a community space, seeing it as a poor employer and exploiter of the keen and dynamic than as a business promoting and demonstrating best practice.
As of that time Andy has refused to work with, promote, sympathise with or encourage others to support this white elephant of a once great arts centre.
Chapter began as a squat. It was always a community developed and delivered space. Andy remembers seeing bands perform there, way back in the late ’90’s.
Chapter now sucks up much of the arts funding for Cardiff. Recently Chapter received over half a million from the Arts Council and this after sacking most of their staff. They used the cash in part to refurbish the bar area.
Cardiff Life Model Collective and Andy Muse say DON’T go to Chapter. Avoid using Chapter. And we’ve been consistent. We’ve been saying this for ten years. You really need to join us in this, no matter how enticing a screening or opening might appear! Your cultural enjoyment is not worth the abuse of employees goodwill, not worth the zero or minimum waged jobs that are apparently required for this place to operate.
The managements disregard for staff and the wider arts community in Cardiff is unforgivable. The Arts Council’s continued support for this business is outrageous especially given the discussions we have had with them earlier this year.
Do as Andy has been doing since 2010 and boycott Chapter!
Do as Andy has been doing and write to the Arts Council expressing your dismay at their funding choices. Perhaps also write to the Welsh Government and the National Lottery too. After all, it’s time to stick it to the man!
In boycotting and writing you’ll be supporting artists and staff in galleries and arts centres across the country and sending a message to those with the purse strings that their time must surely be coming to an end.