Glas­gow arts hub ‘blighted’ by clo­sure fol­low­ing art school fire

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Libby Brooks Scot­land correspondent

Glas­gow’s fore­most arts and cul­ture venue, the Cen­tre for Con­tem­po­rary Arts (CCA), faces a “per­ma­nent hol­low­ing out” as it en­ters its fourth month of en­forced clo­sure caused by the Glas­gow School of Art fire.

Its di­rec­tor Fran­cis McKee be­lieves that the CCA has been brought to the brink by a fun­da­men­tal fail­ure on the part of Glas­gow City Coun­cil to un­der­stand the na­ture and scale of the or­gan­i­sa­tion that is con­sid­ered an im­por­tant driver in the city’s cul­tural re­nais­sance over the past 30 years.

While de­scrib­ing a new pro­vi­sional re-en­try date of 15 Oc­to­ber as “more hope­ful”, McKee said: “No­body seemed to un­der­stand what the CCA was for, the scale of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and what long-term clo­sure would mean. There’s been a com­plete lack of un­der­stand­ing of the scale of what we do, and then we’re not at the ta­ble when de­ci­sions are made about our fu­ture. So the help we were of­fered was not the help we needed. That is a real frus­tra­tion.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the CCA were set to meet yes­ter­day to dis­cuss a re­cov­ery plan for the Sauchiehall Street area. The cen­tre and other busi­nesses are still af­fected by the se­cu­rity cor­don, im­posed by the coun­cil’s build­ing con­trol as the painstak­ing work to sta­bilise the re­main­ing struc­ture of the dev­as­tated Mack­in­tosh build­ing con­tin­ues.

The CCA was told on Thurs­day af­ter­noon that the art school is work­ing to a re­vised com­ple­tion date of 14 Oc­to­ber, a month later than the CCA had pre­vi­ously an­tic­i­pated, but that this is “po­ten­tially sub­ject to change and is de­pen­dent on both weather and the tech­ni­cal progress be­ing made by the [Glas­gow School of Art] con­trac­tors”.

The meet­ing comes amid fur­ther crit­i­cism by other res­i­dents and busi­nesses still ex­cluded from their homes and busi­nesses of “sham­bolic” cri­sis man­age­ment. Some ten­ants re­turned to their homes only to wait days for their gas sup­ply to be re-in­stalled.

With more than 300 events and ex­hi­bi­tions at the CCA can­celled since the fire on 16 June, the 18 busi­nesses and or­gan­i­sa­tions that re­side within the multi-pur­pose arts cen­tre, which has of­fered a unique cul­tural hub for the city since it opened in 1992, re­main in limbo. The CCA cafe fears that, hav­ing ex­hausted its in­sur­ance pol­icy, it will have to sack its 32 staff.

“There is a gen­uine fear that the CCA will be per­ma­nently hol­lowed out”, said McKee.

The cen­tre works with some 366 part­ners, in­clud­ing the Glas­gow Film Fes­ti­val and Celtic Con­nec­tions, which have now been forced to find dif­fer­ent venues dur­ing the au­tumn, the CCA’s busiest pro­gram­ming sea­son.

The Glas­gow School of Art in­sists that its con­trac­tors are work­ing “flat out”, but un­der­lined that all progress must be in­spected and signed off by the coun­cil’s build­ing con­trol of­fi­cials.

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