Artrix arts centre in Bromsgrove is to close permanently because of the financial impact of coronavirus.
The Worcestershire organisation stopped receiving regular council funding in 2018/19 and said it had been seeking new financial investment, but admitted that its “fragile recovery” had been rendered impossible by Covid-19.
A statement from its trustees said it must cease trading immediately or risk operating illegally, after its income dropped to zero when venues were forced to close last month.
“With no income since March 16, and no certainty of returning to normal ticket sales and catering income for at least six months, our assets do not cover our liabilities and we are therefore technically insolvent,” it said.
It is the first arts organisation to announce its permanent closure as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, and follows warnings of the impact Covid-19 will have on small and independent cultural venues.
The arts centre, which opened in 2005, employs 21 staff.
Its director, Angela Galvin, said: “This is devastating news for the whole amazing Artrix family – our small but mighty team of paid staff who are losing the jobs to which they have dedicated themselves with such passion and vigour for so long, and our wonderful volunteers who have given thousands of hours to supporting our work, because they believe in what Artrix stands for.
“Over the past 15 years we have shown there is a need for an arts centre in Bromsgrove, the need is still there, the goodwill is still there. We sincerely believe that when this extraordinary situation is over an arts centre for Bromsgrove will rise again.”
For the first 10 years of its operation, Artrix was funded by Bromsgrove District Council, the Heart of Worcestershire College – which gifted the land the building stands on – and Worcestershire County Council. This funding was cut in 2018, resulting in an income gap of £115,000 per year, trustees said.
The trustees’ statement said that by making changes to its structure, Artrix had managed to work through the first year without grant funding and recently been in “positive dialogue” with the council about the possibility of future investment.
“[We] watched our income from other sources grow to a point where the prospect of survival and development became a reality… This fragile recovery has been cut off by Covid-19,” the statement said.
Trustees also said the organisation did not meet eligibility criteria for grants and loans from the government, and had also been unable to claim against its business interruption insurance because its insurer is not recognising Covid-19 on its list of notifiable diseases.
Trustees said they would stand down on the appointment of a liquidator, adding: “Artrix will return when this is all over, we are sure of that.”