‘Sad day’ as Byre Theatre in St Andrews closes

The Byre Theatre in St Andrews was founded in 1933
The Byre Theatre in St Andrews was founded in 1933
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ONE of Scotland’s best-known theatres is to close its doors this week following a shock announcement that it is to enter administration.

The theatre will close on Thursday, after the board called for liquidators as funding cuts and running costs became unmanageable.

In a statement, the theatre’s board said: “Ticket sales have been very good recently... but never sufficient to cover all the overheads and staff costs.

“The Board was hoping that these ongoing challenges could be resolved through the planned participation in the new Fife Cultural Trust from 1 April 2013 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.

“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 news broke yesterday afternoon that The Byre Theatre was closing, despite successfully hosting the launch of Creative Scotland’s Creative Place Awards on Wednesday.

Grant Ward, head of Leisure & Cultural Services at Fife Council, said: “It’s hugely disappointing to hear that The Byre Theatre is likely to enter into administration next week, and we appreciate that this is a challenging time for all concerned.

“We also recognise the hard work of the board who have tried, in extremely difficult circumstances, to secure a sustainable business model for The Byre Theatre. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, this doesn’t look to have been possible.”

He added: “As owners of the building, we’ll be seeking an early meeting with the administrators, once appointed, to discuss next steps. We will also be working closely with Creative Scotland to explore other possible delivery models.

“Notwithstanding today’s sad news, we remain optimistic that there will be a future for The Byre Theatre.”

The theatre had been set to host the Fife Jazz Festival from 1 February, which was forced to find a swift change of venue ­following the announcement of the closure.

The five concerts will now take place in St Andrews Town Hall, and the festival will contact ticket holders early next week to assure them their tickets will be honoured in the new venue.

The Byre Theatre, which was founded in 1933, was once praised by Sean Connery as “an exciting performance space which professional touring companies would be foolish to overlook”. It lead a successful bid for St Andrews to be awarded the title of Scotland’s Creative Place 2012.

Roger Spence, Jazz Festival ­director, spoke of his shock at the announcement, adding that it was “a sad day for a great ­institution”.

He said: “This is the most important and exciting jazz and blues programme we’ve ever put together in St Andrews, and now our main partner in the town cannot host us. Thankfully the town hall has agreed to a last-minute booking and made all the arrangements to make the venue available to us. 
Thanks to them, and we hope that out of adversity we can ­create a great new venue for the festival.”

Fans took to Twitter to express their shock and sadness at the closure of the much-loved venue. Glasgow-based actress and singer Lucy Avison tweeted: “Really sad to hear that the Byre Theatre might be going into ­liquidation. My thoughts are with the lovely people who work there.”

The Byre Writers group, which encourages up-and-coming writers with regular meetings at the theatre, expressed their annoyance on the site that no alternative venue had been offered to them, tweeting: “No offer of help from Fife council or Creative Scotland although they have been asked.”