The Assembly Government has failed to advertise for a new Chair of the Arts Council of Wales - even though Geraint Talfan Davies leaves the post at the end of next week.
Mr Davies was told before Christmas by Culture Minister Alun Pugh that he would not be reappointed for a second term. After the Western Mail revealed Mr Pugh's decision, there was a storm of protest from many arts organisations in Wales.
Mr Davies, backed by the entire board of the Arts Council, opposes Mr Pugh's plan for the Assembly Government to fund directly six big arts organisations. He argues that removing the so-called arm's length principle could result in political control of the arts, leading potentially to censorship and self-censorship.
Mr Pugh says disadvantaged groups should benefit more from arts funding across Wales.
Opposition parties combined to defeat Mr Pugh's direct funding plan, and a wide-ranging review of the proposal is under way, with the matter due to come back to the Assembly in December.
As yet, no successor has been appointed to Mr Davies - and the post has not been advertised, even though Mr Davies steps down at the end of March.
Chris Ryde, of the Wales Association for the Performing Arts, said, 'WAPA welcomes the progress being made on the review into the funding of the arts in Wales following the decision made in the National Assembly on February 1. We look forward to presenting evidence to the review panel when it is set up.
'WAPA is however deeply concerned at the failure of the Assembly Government to advertise and organise a replacement Chair for the Arts Council of Wales in the wake of the decision taken in December not to reappoint Geraint Talfan Davies. Given that this review will determine policy guidelines for the medium to long term, we believe it is vital that the issues are discussed with the panel in as much depth as possible. We therefore urge the Culture Minister to extend Mr Davies's period as Chair of ACW through to the completion of the review in December 2006.'
Lisa Francis, the Tory culture spokeswoman at the Assembly, said, 'I haven't been in politics that long, but I do know you couldn't run a business like this. I am astonished at the Assembly Government's lack of planning.
'I think this is going to cause a fair amount of chaos not just in the Arts Council, but in the arts community generally. They have had a very tumultuous year and a very tumultuous few months, and for the post not even to have been advertised is almost beyond belief.'
A spokeswoman for the Assembly Government confirmed that no advertisement had yet appeared advertising the soon to be vacant post, adding, 'An announcement will be made soon about transitional arrangements.'
Professor Dai Smith, a current member of the Arts Council board, denied a rumour circulating in political circles that he had been offered the role of ACW Chair but had turned it down.
'There has been no post advertised and when it is people will have to apply. I have not been offered the role either formally or informally. I am writing a biography of Raymond Williams and am on a deadline. If I was offered the opportunity to become the Queen of Sheba tomorrow, I would have to turn it down.'
Mr Smith has fully backed the Arts Council position that direct funding of the 'Big Six' arts companies would be wrong.
Mr Davies said, 'I am in my last two weeks in the post, and it is not appropriate for me to comment on what may happen in the future.'