St Andrews Byre Theatre to close after eighty years

01 February 2013
imports_CESC_0-zffozmpd-100000_86102.jpg St Andrews Byre Theatre to close after eighty years
The Byre Theatre in St Andrews is to close after eighty years, a theatre spokesperson has announced. ...

The Byre Theatre in St Andrews has closed after eighty years, a theatre spokesperson has announced.

The theatre, which first opened to the public in a previous building on the same site in 1933, closed on 31 January. In a special announcement, the theatre blamed 'poor results' and explained that the Board had struggled to keep the theatre going since moving to a new building in 2001, and after Scottish Arts Council funding was cut.

'We did all we could'

A statement on the theatre's website read: 'The Board of the Byre Theatre is extremely grateful to its highly professional and loyal staff, its many generous benefactors, including the Friends of The Byre, and to all those who have patronised and supported The Byre during its 80 years. We are greatly distressed to be announcing its closure and profoundly sorry for all those affected by so sudden a termination. We did all we could, but it was not enough.'

Although ticket sales at the theatre remained strong these were still not enough to cover 'overheads and staff costs'. The final performance at the The Byre was a charity performance by the Jenny King Dance Academy. Concerts at the theatre planned as part of the Fife Jazz Festival will now go ahead at an alternative venue.

Supporters fight back

The news has come as a blow to supporters of the theatre, who gathered at the venue on 28 January, in a bid to draw attention to the theatre's importance to the local community; with thousands more pledging their support online via a dedicated Facebook page. Frank Quinault, Chairman of The Byre Theatre Board, said: 'It is extremely important for St Andrews, it's an arts venue and it is eighty years of history. It is very much a community facility important for young people and older people.'

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A history of The Byre

The original Byre theatre was opened in 1933 in a disused cow byre. Local journalist Alexander B Paterson led the theatre in its early years, along with members of the Hope Park Church in St Andrews. Early audiences sat on cushions on the floor, with the original building being demolished in 1969 to make way for a new theatre.

In 1970, a new theatre was opened after £40,000 was raised locally and at the time of original founder Paterson's death in 1989, plans were already underway for an expansion. The most recent theatre building was opened in 2001 by Sir Sean Connery, with the main auditorium named after Paterson.

(Image copyright Kilburn)


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