BREAKING NEWS: ‘No alternative’ to liquidation says distressed Byre Theatre board

Byre Theatre, St Andrews.
Byre Theatre, St Andrews.

THE Byre Theatre had ‘‘no alternative’’ but to go into liquidation, the board said in a statement released today (Saturday).

Twenty-four hours after the shock news that the five-star theatre had closed its doors, the full extent of its financial problems were laid bare.

The board said it had struggled to cover its costs since the opening of the new building, and the loss of its annual grant from the former Scottish Arts Council in 2011 simply exacerbated problems.

It said it ‘‘deeply regretted’’ the theatre’s sudden end, and added: ‘‘We are greatly distressed to be announcing its closure and profoundly sorry for all those affected by so sudden a termination. We did all we could, but it was not enough.

‘‘Following poor results, and advice from our own accountants, it has been necessary to obtain insolvency advice in respect of the financial position of the Business.

‘’Faced with the prospect of insolvency, the theatre had to cease trading at once. ‘‘

The board said it had cut staff, and made greater use of volunteers to manage its costs, and franchised its restaurant and bar - a move that was initially successful, but which ended with the closure of the new business ‘‘and debts to the theatre.’’

‘‘Huge efforts have also been made on the income side, resulting in some £375,000 in grants and donations during 2012, which, among other things, enabled The Byre to continue its important work in nurseries and schools in Fife.’’ the board statement continued.

‘‘Unfortunately, this did little to help with the ongoing cost of running the theatre building itself. Ticket sales and lettings have also been good recently, including a very successful pantomime and large audiences for live film streamings from the Royal Opera and National Theatre - but ticket sales were never sufficient to cover all the overheads and staff costs.’’

The board had hoped its issues would be resolved by joining the new Fife Cultural Trust from April 1, but ‘‘given the scale of the challenges being faced by the Byre, it became clear to us that this would no longer be a feasible option.’’

It added: ‘‘The board has, of course, explored all other possibilities, including consultation with Creative Scotland and Fife Council, but there was no alternative to liquidation.

‘‘The board is extremely grateful to its highly professional and loyal staff, its many generous benefactors, including the Friends of The Byre, and to all those who have patronised and supported The Byre during its 80 years. We are greatly distressed to be announcing its closure and profoundly sorry for all those affected by so sudden a termination. We did all we could, but it was not enough.

Show updates:

>> The show ‘The sound Of Musicals’ starring Leven’s own Donna Hazelton planned for tonight (Saturday) WILL go ahead.

>>The charity performance being presented by the Jenny King Dance Academy on January 30 and 31 will take place in the theatre but the building will close its doors on Thursday night.

>> The organisers of the Fife Jazz Festival have confirmed that their concerts will go ahead and that tickets already purchased will be accepted. Information about where the concerts will be held and where tickets can be purchased will be made available on their website as soon as possible.

>> Have your say:
The St Andrews Citizen will provide comprehensive coverage of the theatre’s shock collapse in next week’s edition.
What are your views?

What are your memories of the theatre?
Can it be saved - and would you play your part?
E-mail your comments to reporter Douglas Miller is also on Twitter @Dougiecitizen