Glasgow CCA 'to remain closed until mid-October'
The vital Glasgow venue will remain closed following the fire that destroyed the Art School
Update on 13 Sep: CCA's provisional opening date moves to mid-October.
Glasgow School of Art has informed Glasgow City Council that it hopes to declare the area safe by 14 October. "This is potentially subject to change and is dependent on both weather and the technical progress being made by the GSA contractors," note CCA. Therefore, the multi-arts building is now expected to remain closed to the public until Monday 15 October.
This means all events scheduled in early October will move to new venues, be postponed for a new date at CCA or have to be cancelled altogether. Updates on the current state of the programme can be found at http://www.cca-glasgow.com/programme/cca-closure
Update on 10 Sep: Since publishing this article on 7 Sep 2018, CCA have received their payment from the Fire Recovery Fund.
Our original story, published on 7 Sep
Glasgow lost one of its architectural wonders when fire devastated the Art School’s Mackintosh building in June, but it looks increasingly likely that one of the city’s vital cultural venues, the CCA, is also in jeopardy as a result of the blaze. As Glasgow Live reported on Wednesday, the multi-arts venue is on a “financial ‘knife edge’” as it remains closed indefinitely.
The venue – situated on Sauchiehall Street, with its Scott Street entrance just a stone’s throw from the Art School – closed on 15 June following the Mackintosh building fire along with other business and residencies in the immediate vicinity, which include the Saramago Cafe Bar, the entrance for which is on the Scott Street side of the CCA. Many of the CCA’s neighbours were cleared to return to their buildings in late August, and CCA themselves hoped to be back up and running by next week.
“Working to a timeline indicated by Glasgow City Council, this week we were expecting limited access would be granted to CCA to facilitate the treating and testing of essential services,” the CCA said in a statement. “Following this, cleaning, re-stocking and maintenance would take place ahead of the venue reopening to the public by Friday 14 September. We had hoped that our re-opening weekend would include Escape-ism (Ian Svenonious), Mount Florida Screenings, Take One Action Film Festival, Glasgow Tango Studio, Acting Up Drama Workshops and Doors Open Day, with a date to follow for the reopening of our exhibition, The Scottish-European Parliament, once minor flooding in the gallery had been fixed.”
It now appears this opening will not be for some time. “This week, we received the disappointing news from the Council that the risk to the CCA building from Glasgow School of Art has not changed significantly since the fire and we will not be granted access at this time," said the CCA. "We have not been given any indication of a new date, and, without that, are unable to make plans for reopening.”
As a result, all the events planned for this month have been cancelled. As anyone familiar with Glasgow’s cultural calandar will know, September is a lively time. CCA’s extended closure into September means that 115 events are impacted, and that’s in addition to the 115 that were already cancelled, moved or postponed from mid-June to end of August. “We hope that, by having some notice, many of these events will be able to find new homes, and we will be able to help them move or reschedule at CCA later in the year,” said the multi-arts organisation.
One such event is the annual film festival Take One Action!, who’ve been force to move screenings to The Lighthouse on Mitchell Lane. Glasgow's special screening of Silvana on 18 September – which will be followed by live performances from The Heir of the Cursed, Erin Friel, Katie Ailes, Leyla Josephine and Tawona Sithole – has also had to move, and is now taking place at SWG3’s Poetry Club.
“Our thoughts are with the CCA staff and all their tenants,” said Take One Action!’s executive director Tamara Van Strijthem. “This is such a key hub for the arts community in Glasgow and beyond, and this continued uncertainty about their ability to reopen is a devastating blow for culture in the city, as well as the many communities CCA brings together through its wider activities.”
“We hope that the uncertainty will be lifted soon,” Van Strijthem added, "and that Glasgow City Council can provide a definite date for CCA to re-open its doors, so that the future of this venue will no longer be in doubt. We can’t wait for CCA to resume doing what it does best: enable folks from across Glasgow and beyond to come together to enjoy a welcoming space with an unparalleled wealth of programming.”
This state of limbo, it seems, is putting increasing strain on the CCA's finances. “It’s the sheer vagueness around it,” CCA director Francis McKee told Glasgow Live on Wednesday. “It’s basically an indefinite closure with no schedule and no dates. That’s a problem for our insurers for example. The cafe desperately needs a date for re-entry for our insurers, for them to continue to support them. We don’t have that.”
As well as no income from its events or the Saramago Cafe Bar, the CCA are still to receive anything from the £5m Fire Recovery Fund announced by the Scottish Government in July. “Financially we are on a knife edge,” McKee told Glasgow Live. “We have no income and the grant we receive from Creative Scotland only covers so much while commercial income covers the rest. Our cash flow is down to a minimum.”
As well as the CCA, the various artists and organisations with studios in the building or who rely on the CCA’s spaces are also without a permanent base. The ‘cultural tenants’ include BHP Comics; Camcorder Guerrillas; Cryptic; Document Film Festival; Electron Club; LUXScotland; MAP Magazine; Paragon; Playwrights’ Studio Scotland; Scottish Ensemble; Scottish Writers’ Centre; The List; Tom McGrath Writers’ Room and University of the West of Scotland. And in addition to the Saramago Cafe Bar, Aye-Aye Books and Welcome Home have all been closed since mid-June.
As reported by the Evening Times, MSP Pauline McNeill raised concerns that the venue was in “grave danger of closing” at Minister’s Questions and asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to work towards getting the CCA the £20,000 hardship payment it has not yet received from the Recovery Fund.
Forced to remain closed and still waiting for this much needed injection of cash, this much-loved venue is in real danger of closing for good, said its director Francis McKee. “We have a cash flow problem, because we have been closed for three months. We got a grant from Creative Scotland and we have eked it out, but it won’t last, and I am reluctant to ask them for more as they have been so helpful.
“The CCA has a busy period planned this autumn, but right now we don’t know whether it is going to go ahead.”
A closure of the CCA would be hugely detrimental to Glasgow’s art scene, as Scotsman critic Joyce McMillan noted on Twitter. “If the CCA goes, after the shocking closure of the Arches, Glasgow can wave a last goodbye [to] the huge reputation as a City of Culture it won in 1990,” she says. “Truly hope this great arts centre, founded by the late Tom McGrath and others as the Third Eye, can be saved.”
We hope so too. We'll have more on this story as it unfolds.