MORE than 130 jobs have been axed after "cultural institution" The Arches closed its doors.


The arts venue announced yesterday it was being forced into administration after losing its nightclub licence.

A total of 133 people are employed by the city centre venue.

It also indirectly employs scores of freelance workers in events, from designers to production managers, technicians to door stewards, artists and musicians.

The venue's board said there was "no other choice" after the licensing board decision hit revenue by more than 50 per cent, making the business "untenable".

The board imposed a midnight closing time last month after police complaints about drug and alcohol incidents.

An appeal to the licensing board to reverse their decision had been lodged by the venue but has since been withdrawn.

However, campaigners have vowed to fight on for The Arches and say a demonstration will be planned.

Staff were called to a meeting at 2pm yesterday to hear the news. The multi-arts venue shut immediately and planned future events have been cancelled.

A handful of supporters gathered round the venue last night, while The Arches trended on social media sites.

Gordon Kennedy, chairman of The Arches Board of Directors, said: "The board has taken professional advice and is left with no other choice than to begin the process of appointing administrators for both The Arches Theatre Ltd and Arches Retail Ltd.

"This decision has been taken with deep regret as it will have a major impact on our staff, business partners, customers, and on Glasgow's reputation for night time economy.

"Our hope is that the administrators, working with partners and stakeholders, can salvage some of the activities for which The Arches is renowned."

Turnover from club activity, including bar sales, accounted for 51 per cent of group turnover.

The Arches Theatre's annual turnover of £3.8million is made up of 15 per cent of public subsidy, with the balance of 85 per cent self-generated through the commercial events and income from the café bar and restaurant.

A petition to save The Arches was launched by theatre producer Callum Smith after the board's decision.

The 25-year-old, from the South Side of Glasgow, had quickly gathered nearly 40,000 signatures.

He said: "I'm sad for the people who work there, the artists involved and also for Glasgow. It looks like it's lost its biggest cultural institution.

"I think there will definitely be demonstrations, people are really shocked and want to do everything they can to stop the Arches from closing permanently.

"We weren't sure what was happening before but now this has happened I think Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council will not hear the end of it."

Artist and supporter Joshua Brown, 40, said: "If the Arches goes it's going to be a massive loss for Glasgow and Scotland.

"I'm trying to organise a demonstration to take place at the next licensing board meeting."

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, said: "I'm so sorry for the staff of The Arches and for the entirely avoidable loss to the city's cultural and social life. This is a venue which gave so much to Glasgow's arts community and to our reputation for great nightlife.

"It's also a venue which put consistent effort into addressing public safety issues, and was rightly recognised for having done so.

"The failure of our society's drugs laws cannot be laid at their door, and moving drug use from this venue to one less used to dealing with these issues will do nothing for public safety."

The Arches had its roots in the 1990 City of Culture Glasgow campaign. It grew to become one of the most renowned arts centres in Europe, with club nights such as Slam and Pressure.

However, high-profile incidents, such as the suspected drug-related death of 17-year-old Regane MacColl, who became ill at the club in February last year, gave the venue a controversial reputation.

A spokesman for Glasgow Licensing Board, which is made up of cross-party councillors, said: "The board simply could not ignore the evidence presented to it in relation to The Arches.

"Over 200 drug-related incidents were detailed at the most recent hearing as well as numerous call-outs to the ambulance service, which often related to people in life threatening situations.

"The evidence presented to the board clearly showed that the continued operation of The Arches' late-hours licence threatened public safety, created a risk of crime and endangered the health of individuals.

"Unfortunately the conditions the Arches agreed to following the death of one of their customers did not curtail problems at the venue and the board had no option but to take further action.

"The financial situation of a premises can never be a factor in the decision making process of the board. "

A spokesman for the council added: "We have been working with The Arches and other funders for some time to develop a sustainable model to provide a long term financial solution for The Arches to continue to operate.

"We remain committed to trying to identify opportunities for their work to go on."