THE popular arts venue, the Byre Theatre, could be open again by the autumn after going into administration.

Fife Council, which owns the building in St Andrews, are hoping to buy the fixtures and fittings needed to open the theatre, with funding help from arts body Creative Scotland, in the near future after an evaluation of what is required and its price is complete.

The collapse of the company that ran the Byre shocked the Scottish art world last week and more than 4000 people have signed a petition to save the theatre. Council insiders now believe it will take around two to three weeks for the building to return to their hands from the administrators.

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The council and Creative Scotland do not want the venue, which has been in the town for 80 years, to be closed for long.

However, an insider said the new management of the venue, reopened after a £5 million revamp by Sir Sean Connery in 2001, should be "viable and sustainable in the long term". It is then likely that the venue would be run by the Fife Cultural Trust, which already runs theatres in Fife.

"We want it operational again as soon as is practicable," a source said.

The Byre Theatre Ltd is seeking a Creditors Voluntary Liquidation, and it is likely to be formalised early next week.