Horsecross Arts boss Jacqueline McKay resigns

THE chief executive of two leading Scottish arts venues has suddenly left her post after just over a year in the job.

McKay's remit included Perth Concert Hall. Picture: Robert Perry
McKay's remit included Perth Concert Hall. Picture: Robert Perry

Jacqueline McKay was only appointed as head of Horsecross Arts, the organisation which runs Perth Theatre and Perth Concert Hall, less than 14 months ago.

But a statement, issued only a week after it emerged Perth Theatre’s artistic director Rachel O’Riordan was leaving for a new job in Wales, said she had now departed for “personal reasons.”

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Ms McKay had previously been chief executive of the Byre Theatre, in St Andrews, which was closed down suddenly in January after plunging into liquidation.

No further explanation for Ms McKay’s surprise departure had been offered, with Horsecross Arts announcing that it had brought in an interim chief executive, Colin McMahon, a former senior official at Angus Council while a new figurehead is recruited.

Ms McKay, who left the Byre shortly before it was expected to become part of a new cultural trust in Fife, had been expected to oversee plans for a multi-million pound overhaul of Perth’s historic theatre.

Councillors approved final plans earlier this month which will see the building close in January to make way for the £14.5 million project.

Horsecross Arts said Mr McMahon’s appointment was aimed at ensuring “business continuity” as it embarks on the theatre revamp, which is expected to take around two years to complete.

Iain Halliday, chair of the Horsecross Arts board, said: “These are challenging but exciting times for Horsecross Arts as we enter this period of transition towards a newly transformed Perth Theatre.

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“We are confident that with Colin on board working with us to recruit a new chief executive and managing the start of the theatre transformation process, we are best

placed to deliver on our plans and build on our achievements to date.”

Mr McMahon said: “As a long term visitor and supporter of both Perth Theatre and Perth Concert Hall, I am greatly looking forward to working with the Horsecross team

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and supporting the organisation to ensure that all our exciting plans for culture in Perth remain on track.”

Last week it emerged that Ms O’Riordan was leaving Perth Theatre after three years as artistic director to take up the same post at Sherman Cymru, in Cardiff. She is expected to remain in her post in Perth until February of next year.

She said at the time: “My three years at Perth Theatre have been among the happiest of my life and I have created some of my best work here in Scotland.”