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Delay to arts probe criticised

The founder of a leading arts company that collapsed amid ­allegations of financial irregularities has questioned the length of time it is taking to achieve "justice."

NIKKI MILICAN: Company director is frustrated by wait for answers.
NIKKI MILICAN: Company director is frustrated by wait for answers.

The founder of a leading arts company that collapsed amid ­allegations of financial irregularities has questioned the length of time it is taking to achieve "justice."

The publicly funded New Moves International (NMI), a Glasgow-based arts company lauded for its work, was wound up in November 2011.

However, police in Scotland and Europe have yet to charge anyone in connection with the case.

Nikki Milican, the company's founder and artistic director, has expressed her frustration at how long the investigation is taking.

NMI was one of ­Scotland's key cutting-edge arts companies and was supported with £230,000 in 2011 by the national arts funder Creative ­Scotland. However, the firm ceased trading after encountering significant and unexpected "cashflow difficulties."

In a statement to The Herald, Ms Milican has spoken out for the first time about the case, which led to the closure of her company and the axing of the New Territories festival at The Arches.

The statement says: "Nikki ­Milican and many of the artists with whom she has worked over many years are still holding out for a satisfactory conclusion to the unfortunate circumstances that led to the demise of New Move International in November 2011.

"They are, of course, very ­disappointed, as well as frustrated, in the time it is taking to progress the investigation given the available evidence, but they continue to be patient in the hope that justice will prevail in the not too distant future."

Police insisted they were still investigating through the Economic Crimes Unit. Sources said cases of this complexity often take longer to investigate than other illegal activity.

Creative Scotland asked the police to submit a detailed report to its Audit Committee, which met last month.

A spokeswoman said: "The circumstances around New Moves International are being investigated by the police.

"With regard to creative ­opportunity, some of the work which might have found a natural home in New Moves has re-emerged via the expanded Arches' Behaviour Festival."

The Herald's arts critic Mary Brennan said: "People still come up to me in foyers, saying how much they miss the international work that Nikki Milican programmed in her New Territories festivals. And then they ask me what - if anything - is happening.

"I think we're all puzzled by the time it's taking for any information to surface - especially since a large amount of public money seems to have vanished, and with it one of the flagship events on the Scottish arts calendar."

The 2012 New Territories ­festival, which was due to feature dozens of artists and was organised by NMI, was also cancelled.

The board of directors backed Ms Milican and her efforts to supply information on the company to the police. NMI was considered to be one of the nation's most important arts companies and also received significant sums from the EU and Glasgow City Council.

It was part of the €2 million (£1.6m) A Space for Live Art, involving eight organisations from eight different countries, funded by the EU Culture Programme.

Ms Milican's work in dance and live art has been hailed as influential, and the New Territories festivals had shown Scots audiences cutting-edge live art and performance art from across the world.

A 2011 letter sent to creditors and artists by the directors blamed the problems on "irregularities, which are currently being investigated." It added there was no further cash available to refinance the company.

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