IT was interesting to read the three columns written by Deborah Fox, Peter Williams and Roger Townsend about the amalgamation of the three Arts Organisations in Salisbury. What was worrying was the article written by Katy Griffin in which she states that The Playhouse has been awarded £5m over four years to support plans to merge with The Festival and The Arts Centre. If she is correct, and the cash will be given to the Playhouse, are we to understand that they will have financial control of the “merging” process and the future management of all three organisations? Are the voting membership of the Arts Centre going to be told of their fate? We were told at the AGM in December that we would not notice any difference. I wonder if the poor staff and board of the Festival were told the same. Arts Council England has decided what is going to happen and is ploughing ahead. I do not believe for a single moment that the Playhouse has the slightest idea how to run a community Arts Centre or an International Arts Festival come to that. As Roger Townsend said in his article, the history, experience and expertise went in one fell swoop of redundancies in the week before the Festival started. When Wiltshire Council withdrew all it’s funding from the Arts Centre, the cut in staff caused the place to drastically cut back on activities and the opening hours. What are we to take from this ? While we are given no information at all, we can only read between the non-existent lines and assume the ACE want to homogenise the Arts in Salisbury and lose all the individuality of the wholly different organisations that we have been so lucky to have for more than forty years. And after the four years are over, what then?

Mary Stephens