Byre theatre leaves £500,000 debt after closure

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A TRAIL of debts worth almost half a million pounds has been left behind by a collapsed theatre company.

Liquidators handling the assets of the Byre, in St Andrews, say more than 700 creditors have emerged after the venue was forced to close suddenly last month.

However the assets are valued at just £271,000 leaving a massive deficit for those left out of pocket to the tune of £471,271.

The bulk of the debt is understood to be owed to the Bank of Scotland, who helped finance the building of a new theatre building a decade ago, and former employees.

A new statement from accountants Henderson Loggie, liquidators for the Byre, said that the closure of the theatre had been “inevitable” within weeks as the board had been unable to raise sufficient emergency funding to bring a substantial gap in its finances.

It was due to run out of money within weeks, despite substantial financial backing from both Fife Council and Creative Scotland in recent years.

After news of the closure emerged, the Byre’s board admitted that the venue had been struggling to meet its running costs.

It is hoped the stricken venue may be able to reopen under the umbrella of the Fife Cultural Trust, a new body set up by the council to run its flagship arts venues, which the Byre had been due to transfer into before its financial collapse.

The Scottish Government has pledged its “full support” for efforts to rescue the venue, although no funding has been offered for any bail-out as yet.

Graeme Smith, who is handling the assets of the Byre at Henderson Loggie, said: “Despite funding being available for one-off projects, which allowed a number of outreach projects to be carried out for the benefit of the community, existing general funding did not cover the overheads of maintaining the Byre Theatre and the staff needed to operate it.

“The company maintained detailed management accounts and identified early in January 2013 that there was a funding deficit looming and insufficient cash available to meet the on-going overheads.

“The company would have needed an injection of £60,000 – £80,000 to cover the cash needs of the Theatre until the proposed transfer to the Fife Cultural Trust.

“Had there not been a funding gap in the current financial year and the Byre had been able to continue in operation, these debts may not have fallen on the company and the company may not, technically, have been insolvent at the financial year end. This was not possible, and, thus, the company ceased operations.”