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190 FACE AXE AT MAC

13-09-2007

The MAC

190 workers at the Midlands Arts Centre in Edgbaston face the prospect of redundancy when it closes for a multi-million pound refurb next year - but the Chief Executive has dismissed speculation that it's future could be in jeopardy.

The Birmingham Mail quoted this week from an internal document which suggested that "MAC will be unable to survive" without additional financial commitment following poor box-office takings this summer (see here )

That's been dismissed by insiders who says there's no serious threat to its future.

MAC has broken even or operated in profit for the last decade, so funders are likely to take a sympathetic view if it makes a small loss this year - especially as the decrepit state of the buildings was a contributory factor.

In June, for example, the cinema was forced to close for several days because of flooding when the River Rea burst its banks.

New money has been sought precisely because the fabric of the Centre is in dire need of repair.

Director Dorothy Wilson, commented: "The investment in the Building Project of 11.7m from our funders Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England is evidence of the confidence that they have in mac as a successful, and thriving, business."

Wilson herself faces the prospect of losing her job next Spring when MAC closes for 18 months.

All 55 core staff, and another 135 part time and seasonal workers are liable to be made redundant - among them author Catherine O'Flynn, whose debut novel "What Was Lost" was long-listed for the Booker prize. O'Flynn works in the box office.

MAC began a 90 day statutory consultation process with all staff yesterday, with only the prospect of eight positions being retained to deal with the transitional period.

It had been hoped to maintain a programme off-site during rebuilding, but The Stirrer's been told that the costs and risks associated with doing this were prohibitive.

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