Coale's Notes: Decline and fall: A resigned Gordon Coales ponders his last few days at the Wormwood Arts Centre

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The Independent Culture
MONDAY Working all day on a press release. 'Wormwood Centre under threat . . . Essential cultural focus of local community . . . Why the Wormwood must not be allowed to close . . . A year of outstanding achievement . . .'

Here I get stuck.

Everyone in the Centre is really rallying round. But the situation is basically hopeless. I had a very formal meeting with the Leisure Committee this evening. The Centre will close for the holiday on Wednesday week, and then not re-open - pending 'a full viability study'. And my own position 'will inevitably be coming under consideration in the process'. As expected.

I am surprised to have heard nothing yet from Wall Eye, after last Friday's spectacular events.

TUESDAY A call from the director at Wall Eye. I asked him how he thought things had gone. He said he was definitely very interested in my story and 'thinking fairly long term, of course'.

I asked him how he wanted to do it. He envisaged a series of interviews. I said absolutely, when would be convenient? He said: 'Well one pretty soon, I hope. And then one around the time of your trial. And then when you get out. And if we can get access, maybe while you're inside too.' I told him that happily I hadn't been charged with anything. He said, 'Oh, why not?' I told him I had done no crime. There was a long pause. 'So let me get this clear. You're not going to go to prison at all?' I said no. He said he would now need to seriously re-think his plans.

I asked Fiona how I could best devote my energies to the campaign. She said 'Naturally we all have complete confidence in you, but it may be kind of easier for the campaign if you keep a low profile, at least publicly.' So, it has come to that. She added: 'Look - what I said to the TV last week after your arrest. I was in shock. I mean we all were.'

I gave a very factual interview to Dave Curley of the Herald, emphasising the cultural implications of closure.

But who is to blame really? First, obviously Terry, for his embezzlement. Then I suppose me, for leaving him in charge. Then Fiona, for making me do this, by refusing to supervise Alan's exhibition. But ultimately, Alan himself. Yes, ultimately but unsurprisingly, it is an artist whom we must blame. I never want to hear his name again.

WEDNESDAY So, our last working week begins. I note the cream of our festive programme:

'Pantomania: Hysteria, blood- letting and diabolical possession - all the ingredients of the traditional Christmas panto, reworked by Interference Theatre for an age of Virtual Reality and viral panic. (May not be suitable for children.)'

'Iris Id - Alternative Psychic: open your mind to Iris, the world's only 'politically correct' psychic. Using her telepathic powers, Iris will reveal sexism, racism, ablism and other offensive attitudes in volunteers from the audience. Don't leave your prejudices at the door]'

'The Accursed Share - group exhibition which asks 'What is a gift?', with a timely examination of issues around power, pleasure and abjection. (WARNING: some of the exhibits contain organic waste material.)'

How did we last so long?

THURSDAY The campaign is underway. We have:

A petition in the foyer. (I told Olly that people must be asked to sign as they are coming in.)

A notice to motorists on the side of the building saying 'Honk if you want us]' (It's always been a dangerous corner, so this works pretty well.)

An article in the Herald: 'Cooking the Books - Gordon Coales speaks frankly about his 16 vanishing pizza ovens.'

I feel quite helpless

FRIDAY Fiona told me she is organising a Crisis Support Event for the beginning of next week, rounding up celebrity speakers and performers. I asked if I could help. She replied: 'We were rather wondering if you could organise the catering?'

I took the opportunity to thank the catering manager for all his wonderful work on the cafe. He said: 'I suppose pizzas all round would be the appropiate thing, would it not?'

Fiona later announced: 'Guess what - Alan's agreed to come up and perform at the Event.' I expressed astonishment, after his terrible exhibition. She said: 'Well God knows, he owes us one. That was a breakthrough show for him. But it's quite a coup, considering how well he's doing now. So do try and be grateful to him.' I said I'd thank him for everything.

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