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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Glass centre facing fresh crisis
National Glass Centre
The National Glass Centre opened in 1998
Britain's National Glass Centre is facing another crisis, with the loss of its fifth chief executive in six years.

The Sunderland-based arts complex has accepted the resignation of Vicky Nicholls, who had been in post less than 12 months, due to ill health.

It is another blow for the 17m centre, which has struggled to hit visitor targets since opening in 1998.

Arts Council bosses have pledged to continue subsidising the centre with taxpayers' cash.

In a statement, the trustees of the centre said: "Vicky has made an excellent contribution and it is with great regret that we have accepted her resignation."

The previous acting chief executive, Jules Preston, is to take temporary charge.

We are working very closely with the glass centre to add to the experience when people visit the centre and the galleries
Arts Council spokeswoman

When the centre opened it was hailed as a celebration of Sunderland's heritage in the glass-making industry.

But a Parliamentary Audit report in 2003 said the centre - which was recently awarded additional funds of 700,000 - was over-funded.

However, a spokeswoman for Arts Council England (North East), said taxpayers' cash would still be used to help fund the centre.

She said: "We are very pleased with the progress that has been made at the glass centre.

'Important resource'

"Visitor figures are actually up and we are obviously very saddened that Vicky Nichols has had to step down because of ill health.

"We are working very closely with the glass centre to add to the experience when people visit the centre and the galleries."

The centre has found it difficult to attract paying visitors to the Kaleidoscope Gallery, which tells the story of glass, and for which there is an admission charge.

The centre receives revenue grants of 133,000 from the Arts Council and 125,000 from Sunderland City Council.




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