Snoddy resigns after 'rough' time

Stephen Snoddy has resigned as director of the high profile Baltic contemporary arts centre in Gateshead after what he described last night as "a rough three months".

Stephen Snoddy has resigned as director of the high profile Baltic contemporary arts centre in Gateshead after what he described last night as "a rough three months".

Mr Snoddy hadn't returned to work since his suspension in August following his arrest in connection with an alleged indecent assault on a woman in London - for which the Metropolitan Police later said there was no case to answer.

He tendered his resignation at a Baltic board meeting on Thursday, almost a year since his appointment last December.

Mr Snoddy said: "I've had a rough three months and I think I'm making the right decision for myself and my family.

"I suppose really I would have liked to be at Baltic much longer but no-one can really tell what's going to happen at any particular moment in their life.

"The North-East is fantastic and Baltic is fantastic. What's happened to me has sort of changed my life. It has been very unpleasant at times but it has made me think about where my priorities lie.

"I have been away from my family really for eight years, in Southampton and Milton Keynes and then at Baltic. So sometimes you think maybe it's time to give a little bit more to the family and just reflect a bit more."

Mr Snoddy said he did not intend to talk publicly about the circumstances surrounding his arrest. "My attitude is it was very unfortunate but I think you have to draw a line under these things or you will never move forward. I'm a fairly positive and resourceful person and always looking to the next thing."

Mr Snoddy and his wife have three sons, one of whom is severely autistic and attends a residential school near Stockport - the reason given for his marathon commuting.

He said Alan J Smith, the outgoing chairman of Baltic, had been "terrifically supportive".

Mr Snoddy said he was pleased with changes he had made during his time as Baltic director and with the art programme which was now in place for 2005/6.

"I think the first priority now for Baltic is to get a new chairman and take it from there. The senior staff are good enough to take things forward in the next weeks or months so there's no panic stations."

Mr Smith agreed with this assessment.

In a statement, he said the board were disappointed to lose their director but understood and supported his decision.

"Stephen has been immensely enthusiastic about Baltic and articulating a vision for the future," he added.

He said Baltic, which opened in 2002, would begin the new year with a new chair, a new director and four new members on the 10-strong board.

He said this may see Baltic going from strength to strength.

But he agreed that a replacement would be hard to find, especially since - the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Hayward Gallery, both in London - were also in the market for a new boss. Listing the dream profile of a new Baltic director, he said: "It must be someone who has massive vision, style and flair, an exceptional curator and, most important for me, an ability to link with the business community."

Andrew Dixon, executive director of Arts Council England, North East, said: "It is a competitive market but I think Baltic has such presence and standing that it's a place people will want to be.

"We remain very committed to Baltic. It's a flagship project."

He said: "Stephen has played an important part over the last year at Baltic which now has a strong infrastructure and team in place. We wish him well in his future career."


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