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Calls to re-instate Cooltan Arts boss

Supporters and participants of Cooltan Arts are calling for Michelle Baharier to be re-instated.

Following on from the news that Michelle Baharier, who founded Cooltan Arts some 24 years ago and had worked tirelessly to keep Cooltan Arts going and growing, was suspended, supporters and participants are calling for her to be re-instated.

The situation seems to be quite complex, as, from what we understand, Michelle was never given any explanations as to why she had been suspended, let alone any opportunity to discuss and resolve issues before being suspended. We gather that Michelle is still waiting for an explanation.

Members of the Board of Trustees, paid members of Cooltan Arts and participants, held an extraordinary Trustees' meeting on 20th October. Lilian Nalumansi, acting Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Rebecca Wilson, did not attend in person but took part via telephone.

The extraordinary meeting was called to discuss why Cooltan Arts was closed for approximately two weeks in October, without proper consideration for the distress this caused to the participants.

Bob Skelly, a Board member, asked the Trustees why Michelle was suspended and what the specification for the procedure had been. The answer provided by Lilian Nalumansi led Bob to conclude the Board had no mandate to suspend Michelle and that what happened was illegal - Cooltan Arts grievance policy did not provide for suspension of staff pending grievance inquiry.

It was also noted that the Board had received complaints against two other trustees but no action had been taken against them, showing Michelle was being victimised and treated unequally.

Participants were particularly anxious about the lack of consistency and destabilisation caused by the hearsay, innuendo and conflicting responses by staff.

The Board was urged to recognise that the conduct of this process brought the ethics of safeguarding and wellbeing into direct conflict, harming those it was meant to protect.

As there was evidence that Cooltan Arts' policies and procedures were not being adhered to, it was suggested an urgent and open dialogue between Trustees and all concerned about Cooltan Arts' future would be a constructive step forward.

We will continue to publish any news as and when we hear them. In the meantime, you can sign the petition calling for Michelle's re-instatement here.


but did not receive a satisfactory answer. Bob concluded the Board had no mandate to

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