MAC trauma?

I was meaning to post something about The MAC closing for 18 months next year since I noticed full details have been published in their latest events programme anyway but an article in today’s Mail has forced my hand. Aparently the MAC is “facing a crash crisis“, though I suspect that’s a typo.

The future of jobs at the Edgbaston centre, which attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year, has been thrown into turmoil after a grim briefing to staff on its perilous financial state.

The briefing warns of a “significant reduction in the number of job roles” – and says it needs pledges of future support from Birmingham City Council and the Arts Council.

“Without that commitment and support, mac will be unable to survive,” says the briefing note.

Allowing for the usual tabloidification by the Mail this seems to combine a couple of thing. First, the MAC suffered during the summer thanks to the floods increasing maintenance costs and a lower than expected audiences lowering revenues which appears to be putting a strain on employment costs (always the first to go it seems).

But then the Mail goes on to add:

The complex is due to close next April for an 18-month refurbishment costing £13.5 million, triggering a warning of “significant” job losses during the “proposed off-site period”.

This is where I get a bit confused. Surely it’s completely reasonable for the MAC to cut its staffing during this period? Do they really need the full compliment of 170+ when the building is closed and they’re just running occasional events in Cannon Hill Park and elsewhere? Can this really be connected to funding issues at the moment?

Regarding the refurbishment, the official line is they’ve secured £12 million from “statutory and other funders” including the Arts Council and Birmingham City Council and need to raise a further £1.5m from donations. I assume this money is ringfenced specifically for the refurb and is not to be used for the next 6 months. What they’re really looking for is a rescue package to keep things going over Xmas after a poor summer. Or am I missing something?


  1. eeek

    The mac is a great place. Still too dominated by the arty and moseley types but really something for birmigham to be proud of. 18 months is not that long in the life of a place that has been open for 40 odd years and will be open for many more. Surely most of the jobs there are planning based – so what planning will actually be able to take place when the majority of staff is laid off. I could imagine that the 18 months of closure could have been usefully used to make sure the opening of the new site is the most exciting, innovative programme – that gets the non moseley/arty types to turn up…

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