Share

Poetry Society issues full and frank explanation of dispute

Poetry Society issues full and frank explanation of dispute
News

Poetry Society issues full and frank explanation of dispute3

Governance | Niki May Young | 28 Jul 2011

The Poetry Society has published the full details of the internal dispute which has prompted the Arts Council to threaten to withhold its funding until the Society gets its house back in order.

The Society's former director Judith Palmer has also issued her own equally frank account of the situation on a Poetry Society members blog site.

In an EGM statement released last Friday, the Society refers to a “dysfunctional management relationship between the director and a senior staff member”, the “evident stress” suffered by the director as a result of her excessive workload, and the director’s threats to sue the Society after the board suggested that the senior employee should report directly to them for a while. However, it also states that negotiations are currently under way to explore Palmer's reinstatement.

It also talks of “rising emotions”, “conspiracy theories”, “unrelenting and unacceptable pressure on trustees” and admits that mistakes were made by the board.

The dispute arose after the charity was awarded an increase in funding by the Arts Council of more than £300,000 over the next three years. The award came with increased responsibilities and added workload, trustee John Simmons said at the EGM, and the burden of this workload was taken on by the Society's director Judith Palmer, who had generated the successful funding bid. 

But disputes arose between Palmer and Fiona Sampson, editor of the Society's publication, Poetry Review, and over Palmer's perceived ability to handle her workload.

Eventually Palmer resigned on 9 May. The subsequent resignations of finance manager Paul Ranford, the Society's president Jo Shapcott, vice president Gwyneth Lewis, trustee Robin Bolam and Carpenter followed. Bolam and Carpenter's resignations "were not protests," said Simmons, but instead were "caused by the unrelenting and unacceptable pressure on their professional and personal situations".

Admitting mistakes

In the EGM statement Simmons admitted that the board made mistakes in the way it handled the situation. He also admitted that the board's silence fuelled the flames of conspiracy which led to speculation in the press, and even a satirical YouTube film based on Hitler in the film Downfall portraying some of the members of the Society. 

Judith Palmer's version of events

However, Palmer's account of the situation does not accord with that of Simmons' EGM statement. She claims that the board had unilaterally taken over responsibility for areas of her job leaving her unable to run the organisation using her own judgement.

She also alleged that members of the board had become "increasingly intimidatory".

She concluded: "Out of concern for my colleagues I have been wary of making the board's actions public. It seems quite clear, however, that funding cannot flow again until the truth is out and a new board is up."

On Friday the Poetry Society announced that its entire board would be replaced in September. The Society is now in discussions with the Arts Council, which on Monday warned that the charity would have to "get its house in order", or risk losing its funding altogether.

Interim governance arrangements have seen the Society employ former Arts Council director for London Amanda Smethurst as its director from 5 July and Laura Bamford as acting chair from 29 June.

 

>>Read the full EGM statement here<<

>>Read Judith Palmer's response here<<

 

 

Martin Alexander
28 Jul 2011

Thanks for posting this. I'm astonished that the Board has not made the statement more accessible to its Members. If you don't mind, I'll post a link on http://ThePoetrySocietyUK.WordPress.Com

Silkworms Ink
Poetry Editor
Silkworms Ink
28 Jul 2011

It is good of you to have edited this article in light of the counter-argument.

Silkworms Ink
Poetry Editor
Silkworms Ink
28 Jul 2011

If what was delivered on Friday was 'a wholly transparent EGM statement', then why was this statement from Judith Palmer later seen as necessary?

http://thepoetrysocietyuk.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/a-statement-from-the-former-poetry-society-director-judith-palmer/

A 'full and frank explanation' would not have resulted in a room full of Society members asking for clear answers for the following two hours. Listen for yourself... the whole thing was recorded: http://snd.sc/o4rkaG

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

Age UK spends £1.8m in latest round of redundancies

21 Oct 2014

Age UK spent £1.81m on 120 redundancies in 2014, on top of £1.17m last year, as part of a review of...

Stand Up To Cancer raises over £14.5m

21 Oct 2014

This weekend's Stand Up To Cancer event has raised over £14.5m so far, and that figure is continuing...

Charities 'must continue to fight for the right to influence policy'

20 Oct 2014

Civil society organisations must not give up the fight to influence policy and governments, the international...

Demonstrate effectiveness or risk losing public trust, charities told

24 Oct 2014

Charities must demonstrate their effectiveness better to the public or face losing trust, David McCullough,...

Volunteers no longer happy to 'do what they are told', says report

24 Oct 2014

Volunteers now expect more from their experience and charities must do more to recruit and retain them,...

Relationship between government and charity 'has lost its way', says Nandy

23 Oct 2014

There needs to be a rebalancing of the relationship between the voluntary sector and government, shadow...

BeatBullying's technology CIC has not filed accounts with Companies House

22 Oct 2014

A software community interest company set up by the BeatBullying Group in 2012 is almost a year late filing...

Blackbaud launches online giving platform for individual fundraisers

17 Oct 2014

Blackbaud has launched its online giving platform, everydayhero, for fundraisers in the UK in a bid to...

Don't dismiss social media 'slacktivists', fundraisers told at IFC

16 Oct 2014

Charities should embrace and love charity ‘slacktivists’ because social is a great ramp for new donors,...

Join the discussion

 Twitter button

@CSFinance