Sans relinquishes role as Baltic’s programme director

JÉRÔME SANS HAS STEPPED DOWN AS THE programme director at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art to become associate director (art). The switch means that he will no longer be based at the Gateshead gallery.
Jane Morris
The appointment in 2005 of Sans, whose 20 years' international curatorial experience including the founding and co-directing the admired Palais de Tokyo in Paris, was considered a coup for Baltic.

Neither the gallery's director, Peter Doroshenko, nor chairman, Ian Wrigglesworth, would comment, instead issuing a statement which said: '[Jérôme Sans'] new role will mean that he will now spend the majority of his time away from Baltic, freeing him up to undertake other interests and promote Baltic worldwide. As an interim measure, Peter Doroshenko will undertake day-to-day management of the programme team.'

Museums Journal understands that although Sans will be retained to work on several exhibitions, including works from the Zabludowicz collection, his future beyond November is the subject of negotiation. It is believed that he is no longer responsible for managing curatorial staff.

Doroshenko and Sans have been the subject of criticism over the past few months after allegations of victimisation and poor management at Baltic came to light (Museums Journal August 2007, p7). A statement issued by Unison, the union representing many of the gallery's employees, said Sans 'is regarded by staff as having no leadership or
management skills'.

In June, the gallery commissioned management consultancy CPCR to undertake a staff survey. The results have not been made public, but a statement from the union said it revealed 'very serious criticisms of leadership behaviour, with particular reference to the director and the head of programmes'.

The union statement also said the report makes it clear that 'the director's [Doroshenko] management style causes concern and fear'. A spokeswoman for Baltic said that Sans was unavailable to respond to the criticism.

Unison declined to comment further on the situation, until after an emergency board meeting to be held in mid-September. But a source close to the union confirmed that part of the discussion would centre on the role that Sans would play in future.

It is also understood that curator Ronald Van de Sompel has resigned, leaving only one curator in his department, plus an assistant and an exhibitions manager - but as Museums Journal went to press, Van de Sompel's name was still on the staff list on the Baltic website.

A gallery statement said 'although Ronald will no longer be based at Baltic, he will continue to be engaged with projects for the centre for a period of some months'.

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