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Politicians rally to support doomed Glasgow Arches

Andy Arnold, former artistic director of the Arches in Glasgow, speaking Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland. Photo: Stuart Wallace Andy Arnold, former artistic director of the Arches in Glasgow, speaking at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland. Photo: Stuart Wallace
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Politicians in Scotland have rallied to support the Arches in Glasgow, which went into administration last week.

At First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, deputy first minister John Swinney said the Scottish government would “look in all ways that we possibly can” to protect the future of what he called “a significant cultural venue in the city of Glasgow and a venue that contributes a great deal to the cultural life of Scotland”.

His sentiments were echoed by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop who described the Arches as “a powerhouse of culture and arts activity over the past 24 years”.

Pointing out that the venue has had £11.2 million of public funding, including £3.8 million of capital funding, she said: “Creative Scotland are continuing to work with the Arches and Glasgow City Council to see how those artistic activities, which clearly inspired so many of our artists, can continue.”

Their comments came as Andy Arnold, former artistic director of the Arches in Glasgow, called for a new economic model for the venue, which closed on June 10 with a loss of 130 jobs.

Arnold said he was upset about the “tragic development” of the venue going into administration, which came after the venue’s licence was altered so it had to close at midnight.

Speaking at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland, where he was co-host, Arnold expressed his anger at the way events have developed.

He said: “I don’t just mean the way the late licence was taken away. I think that the whole business plan of clubs funding the arts programme was on the way out there and had been for quite a while. There never seemed to be a plan B.”

He added: ”What is needed is some sort of commercial creative imagination to think of something else which can bring thousands of people into that building to enjoy themselves – without necessarily being club and house music.”

Many speakers at the CATS, including winning lighting designer Simon Wilkinson and Arnold’s co-host, the comedian Karen Dunbar, spoke of the important first step that the Arches had given them in their careers.

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