Theatre producer Michael Salmon has been sentenced to 18 months in jail after pleading guilty to four counts of fraud totalling nearly £65,000.
The Cardiff-based co-director of Waking Exploits Theatre Company was jailed on June 17 for making fraudulent claims for grant aid from a number of bodies between May 2015 and February 2016. Cardiff Crown Court heard that he spent more than £9,000 on himself, mainly on trips to London.
The charges included falsifying bank accounts to show a bogus sum of £29,000 in support of a planned production of Kaite O’Reilly’s Cosy, featuring disabled performers, at the Wales Millennium Centre, and defrauding Equinox Theatre Company of monies obtained from Arts Council of Wales for its proposed production of Nina Hamnett, Queen of Bohemia.
Salmon was also found guilty of dishonestly obtaining £13,000 from Playwrights’ Studio Wales and making false representation to Arts Admin Ltd.
In cross-examination, Salmon, a Clore Leadership fellow in 2015, explained he had been working on several projects simultaneously and that he had taken money from unconnected productions to meet cash shortfalls on others.
In mitigation, defence barrister Jonathan Lewis argued that Salmon’s behaviour had not been entirely motivated by greed. He added: “It would be fair to say this is very poor financial mismanagement by Mr Salmon with an arching degree of dishonesty.”
Sentencing Salmon to jail, recorder Paul Lewis QC described him as “a talented young man” but ruled that: “From almost the beginning, you set about deceiving and lying about the funding. There was financial mismanagement and money was utilised on one project from another, which it should not have been.”
In addition to the prison sentence, Salmon was ordered to pay more than £8,000 in compensation.
In February, Salmon applied to have Waking Exploits Theatre Company (which he co-founded in 2011) struck off the register at Companies House.