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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 16:16 GMT
Row over arts council chair post
Alan Pugh
Alun Pugh says he will hold a full public appointment process
A row has developed because the current chairman of the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) may not be re-appointed by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Culture minister Alun Pugh has denied the current chairman is being sacked and said his term in office ends soon.

But he said the post will be advertised to attract someone who can raise arts attendances among lower income groups.

The ACW, due to lose power to the assembly government, said a change of leadership could be damaging.

It is understood that Mr Pugh was shocked by the results of a survey by the ACW revealing many people could not afford to attend the arts, and suggesting more needed to be done.

In a meeting at the end of last year, the current chairman Geraint Talfan Davies was told the post would be advertised, looking specifically for someone to increase attendance amongst disadvantaged groups.

Geraint Talfan Davies
Geraint Talfan Davies' term as arts council chair ends in March

Mr Davies, a former controller of BBC Wales, will see his three-year term at the ACW end in March.

But the arts council has written to first minister Rhodri Morgan to express concern.

It believes a change of leadership at a sensitive time for the council could be damaging and is also concerned about plans for six of Wales' main arts organisations to be funded directly by the assembly government.

"Geraint Talfan Davies has been the lead speaker on behalf of the arts council and has been the main architect of most of the proposals the arts council has put to the assembly government," said David Vokes, a member of the arts council.

Mr Pugh said Mr Davies was welcome to reapply for the post and denied he was being made a scapegoat.

"This is not about personalities, and nobody is being sacked," Mr Pugh said.

"I have a clear responsibility to make sure that cultural spending reaches all parts of Wales, and even more importantly, all parts of our society. I want the new chair to focus on that very important access agenda."

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