BROMSGROVE’S Artrix has announced it has ceased training from today, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the main reason.
The charity said it had been in talks with senior officers from Bromsgrove District Council which leases the building to it since last year.
A variety of options were being looked at to secure financial investment but bosses said the impact of coronavirus on its fragile recovery means it must stop trading from today or it would be doing so illegally.
Angela Galvin, Director of Artrix, 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.
“We thank our staff and volunteers for everything.
“Our hearts also go out to those who have bought tickets and made donations, the social and family groups, the carers, the artists, the workshop leaders and participants, and the local businesses who are part of the Artrix family and who will all feel the impact of our closure.
“Over the past 15 years we have shown there is a need for an arts centre in Bromsgrove, the need is still there, the good will is still there.
“We sincerely believe that when this extraordinary situation is over an arts centre for Bromsgrove will rise again.”
Bromsgrove District Council leader Coun Karen May said: “As leader of the council and, on a personal note, I am deeply saddened by this news.
“Over the last few months we have worked tirelessly with the Artrix trustees to try and identify a way of securing the long-term sustainability of the facility by considering funding, grant and alternative business planning opportunities.
“Unfortunately the finances were already by then in a fragile state and their recent closure, due to the coronavirus pandemic, unfortunately left them with no option but insolvency.
“As leaseholders of the building we are currently working with our legal team and the trustees over the short-term future of the building before we consider any long-term solutions.”
Portfolio holder for Leisure and Cultural Services, Coun Phil Thomas, added: “Despite this news, which I know will impact on a lot of residents and visitors to the District who enjoyed this facility, we will continue to work with our partners to ensure there is an arts provision in Bromsgrove.”
In September visitor numbers were hit when cashless car parking charges were introduced by HoW College which owns the car park next to the venue.
A full statement from the board of directors
The board of Artrix has been closely monitoring the charity’s finances since April 2018, when our funding model changed significantly.
Through a series of changes to our structure and business, with the tremendous hard work of our team and loyalty of our community, we managed to work through the first year without grant funding, and watched our income from other sources grow to a point where the prospect of survival and development became a reality.
In recent months we have been in positive dialogue with Bromsgrove District Council about our lease, and the possibility of future financial investment.
This fragile recovery has been cut off by COVID-19.
On Government recommendation we closed our building on March 16.
Our daily income dropped to zero from 17 March. Our outgoings have not.
We have been unable to access Government support in the form of grants or loans as we do not meet the eligibility criteria.
We, like many other venues, have been unable to claim against our business interruption insurance because insurers are not recognising COVID-19 on their list of notifiable diseases.
18 of team Artrix are now on furlough through the Government’s Job Retention Scheme.