The operator of the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre has gone bust due to the effects of coronavirus, forcing the Merseyside venue to shut indefinitely.
Bliss Space (Southport) Ltd said the "devastating trading conditions" wrought by Covid-19 combined with an uncertain future mean they had "no choice but to place the company into liquidation".
The operators took over the running of the 1,600-seat venue from Ambassador Theatre Group in 2018, and had been managing it on a caretaker basis until the building’s owners – Sefton Council – decided on a long-term strategy.
In a statement, Bliss Space said the venue had needed £1.2 million of urgent repairs following ATG’s management tenure, and that the theatre had recently been the subject of a consultation into its long-term viability.
Directors Robert Agsteribbe and Daniel Broch said: "Through Bliss Space (Southport) Ltd we took on ATCC on a short three-year caretaker lease, with the aim to turn the business around.
"After two years, we were beginning to turn the losses we inherited into a small profit. We were looking forward to our third year when the coronavirus outbreak suddenly struck. It has come out of nowhere and at the worst possible time for everyone."
They said the company has no assets and no revenue and argued that Covid-19 regulations could force the theatre to operate under "severe capacity restrictions" when it is allowed to reopen.
"In light of the above – and to comply with our fiduciary duty – we have sought advice from an insolvency practitioner who has advised us that we have no choice other than to place the company into liquidation," they said, adding that they would continue to work with the council on a "shared vision" for the venue and conference centre’s future.
It is the latest theatre to fall into serious financial difficulty during the Covid-19 pandemic, with Nuffield Southampton Theatres going into administration earlier this month. Elsewhere, Artrix arts centre in Bromsgrove has also closed permanently due to the effects of enforced closure on its business.