Tapestry vision torn up

7th July 2000 at 01:00
I WAS sad to read the letter from Maggie Semple of the New Millennium Experience Company (TES, June 16). Its content can only confuse those schools taking part in the millennium tapestry project who are not already aware of the sorry role played in it by the NMEC.

As we have pointed out before, the NMEC approached us in 1998 - not the other way round - and encouraged us to mount the tapestry scheme.

We made the mistake of trusting the NMEC, and were more concerned with progressing the project than with securing a written commitment from them that the tapestry would be exhibited in the Dome, as all their actions had implied.

It simply did not occur to us that they would set us off on a project only to renege after more than a thousand schools had signed up to it.

Maggie Semple says that "in January we asked for a CD-ROM of the work to display the tapestry in virtual form. To date, we have received nothing." In fact we sent the CD-ROM to Ms Semple on December 8, 1999, sendng a copy at the same time to Lord Falconer, who kindly acknowledged it on December 15. Ms Semple, however, did not herself acknowledge receipt till some two months later, when she simply asked us to "develop" the CD-ROM.

By mid-March, we still had no commitment from the NMEC. After considering developing the CD-ROM further, which would have cost the project a considerable sum, we made the decision to mount exhibitions of the tapestry around the United Kingdom, so that everyone who worked on it could have the opportunity to come and see it. Despite the additional costs and difficulties this presented, this programme is now well under way.

We have made one final offer to Dome boss Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, in a letter to him on May 12, to make the tapestry available for display at the Dome during August. He has not yet had the courtesy to reply.

Lizzie Owen

Chief executive

Millennium Tapestry Company

Building 59

Heyford Park

Bicester, Oxfordshire

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