Scotland

Glasgow School of Art: Venues to close to the public

Staff protesting outside the GSASA bar
Image caption Staff staged a protest outside the GSASA bar on Thursday

The Glasgow School of Art bar and club have closed to the public indefinitely, the student association has announced.

The venues have long been financially unstable, a situation made worse by the two fires which closed large parts of the school in 2014 and 2018.

More than 20 jobs will be affected as the association attempts to fix "structural issues" in the management.

Staff staged a protest outside the venues on Thursday after being told their hours cannot be guaranteed.

The venues are managed by the commercial arm of Glasgow School of Art Student Association (GSASA), a charity funded by a grant from the art school.

Image copyright Glasgow School of Art Student Association
Image caption Students working in GSASA rooms, which will remain open to students

The bar and club have been operating at a loss for years. They have also faced unique problems including the fires which destroyed the Mackintosh building in 2014 and 2018.

A GSASA spokesperson said: "There have been two fires. There have been all kinds of interruptions and disruptions on that street. They're not necessarily to blame, but other businesses have not had to deal with that."

In August employees were warned GSASA could not sustain their wages.

The association has now announced the venues will cut back on commercial activity with "very little to no public provision" until at least next year.

Staff have been given a week's wages as a gesture of goodwill.

What happens next?

A student-led working group will be appointed to help decide the future of the student association's commercial arm.

GSASA president Alessandro Marini said he believed it had become too focused on commercial activity.

He said: "We need to be sure that it's the students who are benefiting."

He said he was hopeful the venues could reopen to the public next year but, in the meantime, reducing commercial activity was the "only option" to keep the spaces open to students.

Image caption Anya Bowcott has worked in the bar for three years

Staff who staged a protest outside the venues on Thursday were critical of the way they had been managed.

Vasiliu Claudia, a masters student at the School of Art who has worked in the GSASA bar for six years, said: "This is not the way to change things, by cutting everyone's hours."

Anya Bowcott, who has worked at the bar for three years, said the last few months had been "appalling" for staff and complained about a lack of transparency.

She said: "We need to work together. We care about this venue so much and we want to see it thrive."

Glasgow School of Art said it was supportive of student association's elected officers "in their determination to address their commercial operations".

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