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Jobs are lost as charity folds after 105 years

A 105-year-old charity which runs a host of popular arts venues and social-support schemes in Edinburgh, including the Roxy Art house, Bristo Place Church and the Forest Cafe and Arts Centre has gone into administration with 40 jobs lost.

Edinburgh University Settlement (EUS), a charity operating as a local community action centre, ceased operations after the granting of a sequestration order by Edinburgh Sheriff Court, with Pricewaterhouse-Coopers partner, Bruce Cartwright appointed as Trustee.

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EUS ran social-outreach programmes and commercial enterprises from its properties, including the Community Learning Centre at Regent’s Road, Stepping Stones at the Old Fire Station in Norton Road, the Roxy Art House in Roxburgh Place and Wilkie House in Cowgate.

It put Bristo Place Church and Forest Cafe up for sale earlier this month. The charity has run up debts of £300,000.

No-one was available to comment from EUS last night but one senior staff member at the Roxy said he hoped that venue could reopen with new backing. It housed the first official event by Creative Scotland, the new Scottish arts body, in July.

Rupert Thomson, artistic director at the Roxy, said: “All EUS’s charities have had to stop. It didn’t come completely unheralded but our understanding through the process is that we were a viable commercial operation and there was reason to think we would be able to continue.

“But we have been instructed to close by the administrators. There has been a lot of appreciation for what we’ve been doing.

“I am open to the possibility that there might be a way of resurrecting it. We are putting out the word just now that any help would be much appreciated.”

There are seven full time and 12 part time at the Roxy.

Mr Thomson added: “We couldn’t have asked for it to have been going better since we changed the format of the venue in January – until this.

“There are two potential routes forward, one is as a charitable trust and for that sort of thing I would speak to Creative Scotland. The only other option would be to run as a completely commercial arts centre.”

Mr Cartwright said: “It would appear the charity’s outgoings have exceeded its income by some £300,000 for the last few years.

“We will be carrying out a more detailed review to understand the financial history. What is clear is that there is no funding to meet the ongoing liabilities, including payment of salaries and wages to the employees.

“As a result, we have reluctantly had to let the employees know that operations had to cease. The majority of the 40 employees have been made redundant with immediate effect, however we have retained a small, core team to help with the maintenance and subsequent disposal of the charity’s property.

A spokesperson for Creative Scotland said: “Creative Scotland sympathises with staff who have received bad news today.

“Any application for funding to Creative Scotland would be assessed on its merits and in the context of extremely competitive demand for investment.”

Edinburgh University declined to comment as it is financially distinct from EUS.

A Fringe source said the area around the venues was vibrant during the festival season. He said: “It is not good when any venue closes down.”

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