Glasgow & West Scotland

The Arches: Founder warns of cultural 'damage' to Glasgow

Arches exterior and interior

The founder of troubled arts venue the Arches has said Glasgow's cultural profile will be damaged by its loss.

Andy Arnold, who set up the venue in 1991, said he was upset to hear it had gone into administration after losing its late night club licence.

The nightclub generated more than half of The Arches' annual turnover.

Mr Arnold, who is now artistic director of the Tron Theatre, said he was "disappointed" an alternative funding model hadn't been found sooner.

The restriction to the nightclub licence followed police complaints about drug abuse and disorder.

Management said they were "left with no other choice" but to call in the administrators after the ruling last month that the venue would have to close at midnight.

The early closing times made the business model, which relied on the nightclub to fund arts and cultural events, "untenable".

About 40,000 people have signed a petition calling for a reinstatement of the licence.

The Scottish government said it would look at ways of safeguarding the venue's future and talks are continuing between Creative Scotland, Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council.

'Breeding ground'

Mr Arnold said: "I'm extremely sad that this has happened and feel particularly for the long-serving and hard-working staff.

"Most of all, Glasgow has lost a unique and extraordinary arts venue - a breeding ground for so much artistic talent - and the cultural profile of this city will be damaged as a result."

Mr Arnold left in the Arches in 2009, for a post at the Tron Theatre, because he felt the model was no longer sustainable and that a new approach was needed.

He said: "When we first began, it was a theatrical night club - Cafe Loco. And when the big super clubs came along, it was part of the house music culture. There was no escaping it. And all you can do is try to deal with it.

"But there were dreadful fatalities and I think after 20 years I realised something had to change, and I was no longer the person to do that, and that's when I left and came to the Tron."

He added: "I'm disappointed there hasn't been a more vigorous attempt leading up to this moment to find other ways of having commercial entertainment.

"I thought anyway the club culture would drift away - as well as there being the element of danger to it.

"It is an extraordinary building with a capacity for 1,800 people and I always felt Glasgow being such a hedonistic city, there would always be an excuse for big parties of some type but whether it always has to be that sort of house music type of party alone, which brings in thousands of people, I wonder.

"That sort of exploration needs to be done. The big club nights which raise serious money - it's finding something to replace those. Returning to that model would be a waste of time."

A group of 400 creative voices, including author Irvine Welsh, members of Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand, have signed an open letter calling on the Scottish government and creative bodies to ensure the Arches remains as an arts venue.

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