Music school 'in safe hands'

The Nelson School of Music is being run by a transition board after its embattled board of trustees resigned late yesterday.

The annulled board, headed by chairman Neil Deans and made up of Paul Rosanowski, Craig Duffy, Mick Dowrick, Pip Jamieson and Cathy Knight, presented resignation letters at a meeting called to discuss recent matters that triggered the calling of a special general meeting this month.

Disagreement over the way ahead, particularly in relation to proposed rule changes, brought the issue to a head. A petition, signed by school members and presented to the board at an informal meeting earlier this week, was intended to discuss rule changes with members.

Rosanowski said then that if the rules, proposed by Bob Bickerton, were adopted, they would force new board elections earlier than planned.

On legal advice the board then handed in its notice, with effect from 5pm yesterday.

The immediately installed board is chaired by Nelson solicitor Tony Stallard, with members including Bickerton, who is a local musician and experienced events manager; partner in RWCA chartered accountants Trevor Cameron, and Adam Chamber Music Festival Trust trustee, management consultant and former senior partner in an accountants firm Roger Taylor.

Nelson businesswoman, naval reserve commander and provider of support services to the Nelson Law Society, Cathy Knight, has been co-opted back on to the transition board.

Stallard commended those involved for the way they handled the situation. He said today he had provided the legal advice to the board and without their continued co-operation, "the future of the Nelson School of Music would indeed have been difficult, to say the least".

Stallard said those concerned handled the resignation and transition process with dignity and with the best interests of the school and its future at heart.

Bickerton, who was among a core group that had led the charge for change, said today it was a good outcome, and the school was in safe hands.

"The transition board is strong and it will now move forward in a positive way.

"There's not a lot more I can say other than the school is in safe hands. It's also important to acknowledge the work everyone has done so far.

"Everyone agrees the rules needed a review and that will now happen in a timely way," Bickerton said.

Stallard said the board used its constitution to co-opt the transitional board so that constitutional issues could be addressed at the coming special meeting on August 14, so that it could handle crucial earthquake strengthening work [including the awarding of key contracts], and could continue with "business as usual" activities.

"The outgoing board members reiterated their commitment to the vision of a Nelson School of Music remaining a vital asset of the local and regional community and a nationally-recognised arts facility," Stallard said.

He said the outgoing board and the transitional one were united in their view that the facilities and community of the NSOM were unique and worthy of preservation and enhancement.

All acknowledged the dedication

and commitment of staff, teachers, benefactors and volunteers as well as their colleagues.

Stallard said several steps had been taken by the previous board and management to advance the initiatives required in the planning for its reopening.

The school's auditorium was closed late last year for renovations and critical seismic strength works.

"The process requires time, experience and dedication, and all of the board participated in very difficult decision-making processes associated with the closure of the school and the planning of the rebuild," Stallard said.

He said it was "imperative" that earthquake strengthening work would continue without interruption to ensure that the NSOM reopened as soon as possible.

"That is what everyone wants.

"It is what everyone at the school has been working hard to achieve.

"The NSOM has strong support at local and central government level and has the funding and sponsorship support needed to continue to deliver highly-valued outcomes for its community."

Stallard said the transitional board would communicate with NSOM members and the community about constitutional changes and the appointment of a new board.

The Nelson Mail