Dark day for the arts in Scotland as The Arches goes into administration
- Scott Henderson
- 10 June 2015
The Arches ‘left with no other choice' following licensing board's decision to cut operating hours, all upcoming events cancelled as venue is closed with immediate effect
No matter how much doomsayers repeated the worst case scenario for the embattled arts venue, The Arches' announcement today that it is to go into administration still comes with a sense of shock.
The decision follows last month’s curtailment of operating hours by the licensing board, which effectively ended the venue’s viability as a nightclub. With the loss of income generated by the nightclub, said to be over 50% of the company’s annual turnover, The Arches’ business model is untenable.
At a meeting of The Arches Board of Directors today, and having taken legal advice, the process of appointing administrators for both Arches Theatre and Arches Retail Company Limited was commenced.
Gordon Kennedy, Chairman of The Arches Board of Directors said: ‘This decision has been taken with deep regret as it will have a major impact on our staff, business partners, customers, and on Glasgow’s reputation for night time economy.
‘Our hope is that the administrators, working with partners and stakeholders, can salvage some of the activities for which The Arches is renowned.’
That the situation has escalated so quickly will stun many in the arts and music community far beyond Glasgow, particularly following the speed and strength of efforts to rescue the venue, including open letters, a petition to reinstate the license that garnered 39,000 signatures and the #savethearches campaign on social media.
Efforts in the subsequent weeks were made to secure funding solutions with partners Creative Scotland and Glasgow City Council, however it seems that the cost of the operation far exceeds what can be generated through this support. All of which spells an ignominious end for a venue with a storied 24-year history, rooted in the 1990 European City of Culture.
Lucy Mason, Artistic Director for The Arches said: 'The atmosphere and architecture of The Arches have helped to shape and define a generation of enquiring and vital artists. It’s shocking that this building which has inspired such creativity, devotion and ambition, should cease to exist as an Arts venue.
'The Arches has developed an international reputation as a producer and programmer of distinctive performance, providing opportunities for artists at all stages of their career to experiment and hone their practice. Without The Arches, the radical energy at the heart of Scotland’s theatre-making community will be greatly diminished, and the future for many individual artists suddenly feels very uncertain.'
In the announcement, Kennedy continues to defend efforts made by The Arches to deal with the concerns of the police and the licensing board regarding behaviour in and around the nightclub. 'The Arches has a zero tolerance approach to drugs and has cooperated with the Police over many years.
'For an unprecedented six years The Arches won gold standard under the Glasgow Community Safety / Strathclyde Police Best Bar None awards – recognition of best practice in maintaining safe and well-run premises. No other venue in Scotland has achieved that.'
All events at The Arches from today have been cancelled, and no doubt reverberations will be felt for months to come.