The Art School venue goes into liquidation

No more Vic Bar! Sad news that The Art School’s union venue will be closing its doors

Article by Jamie Dunn | 14 Jan 2020
  • GSA The Vic Relaunch

Last year, Glasgow music fans were met with another blow when it was reported that Glasgow School of Art union – aka The Art School – was reducing trading and closing to the public until at least the new year until it could get its finances in order. It now seems clear that the closure will be permanent, as the venue (operated by an arms-length company of The Glasgow School of Art Students’ Association) have now gone into liquidation.

“GSASA Limited has engaged with key stakeholders with the aim of putting the company on a sustainable financial footing,” a spokesperson for the venue told Glasgow Live. “Unfortunately, this engagement has proved unsuccessful and the company’s board has been left with no option but to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect.”

The Art School's staff, who include one full-time and two part-time members, and a few dozen workers on zero-hours contracts, expected to return to business as usual in the New Year but have instead lost their jobs. Their union, Unite Hospitality, did not mince its words in condemning the conduct of GSASA Limited during this period of instability for its employees. “We’ve dealt with some awful employers in our time but GSA Students Association takes the biscuit,” Unite Hospitality wrote in a Facebook post.

“For the past three months, our members have been denied work and wages being told that they would receive shifts in January,” Unite continued. “For the past month our leading members have had the threat of dismissal hanging over them for having the audacity to have a drink after shift.” 

“After all this, they find out that they’re out of a job entirely via a third party. Their employer didn’t even have the decency to inform them let alone give them any notice.

“We shall be supporting our members to get every penny they are entitled to and the justice they deserve.”

The Art School union and the Vic Bar venue has been a hub for Glasgow’s art and music community for decades. When news broke about the reduction in trading, a host of Glasgow artists and musicians, including Stuart Braithwaite, Free Love and Optimo, gave the venue and its staff their backing in an open letter published in The Herald. In that letter, they wrote that “we feel it would be a considerable dereliction of duty to their own students, and to the city of Glasgow, to allow this important venue to close, but most importantly, to throw workers at the Art School under the bus in this way."

It seems that GSASA Ltd has done both. We can only hope that an organisation more fit for the task of running the venue steps in to take over the reins. Until then, Glasgow will be without another of its key venues for the foreseeable future.