A CREDITORS meeting has been called for the company running the Belltable Arts Centre, a move that has forced the theatre into liquidation.
The Belltable Arts Centre Company Limited is to be put into liquidation with substantial debts owed to creditors which run into the order of six figures, the Limerick Leader understands. These are primarily to the contractor who carried out the extensive renovation works to the theatre in 2010 and 2011.
The theatre closed early in the new year on a “temporary basis”, it was claimed by the Belltable’s board of directors, which include Eoghan Prendergast and John Crowe of Shannon Development and local councillor Tom Shortt. It was hoped that a restructuring plan would be possible, but that has failed to materialise. Staff were laid off in January.
Several of the directors declined to comment, except to confirm that the company was set for liquidation. City arts officer Sheila Deegan also declined to comment.
The meeting of creditors will take place early in March.
Former director and playwright Mary Coll said she was “deeply saddened” by news of the Belltable’s liquidation and said there were “a lot of questions that need to be asked”.
“I hope that answers are got, because a lot of people who are associated with the Belltable are slightly bewildered by this,” she said. “It is a very sad time. Questions need to be asked and somehow, responsibilty taken for what has happened. It is not a very dignified situation for the Belltable to find itself in after all these years.”
Ms Coll, who was a director for ten years before stepping down in June 2000, said the Belltable was “hugely important to people, to the city centre and keeping a sense of life in the city centre at night”.
“I would like to see an analysis or investigation into what has happened. We now no longer have an arts centre in the city and I am really sad about it,” she said.
“It is not a very gracious end to an arts centre that was very important to so many people in the city and launched the careers of so many people, including myself.”
The venue closure comes after nearly 32 years in operation.
Acting chairman of the board, Patricia Byrne, has stepped down and has not been replaced, with the board members - who also include Ella Skehan, Mike Fitzpatrick of LSAD and Eoin Brady of Lyric FM - rotating the chairmanship between them while the situation continues.
While declining levels of funding and revenues are a factor in the liquidation, it is the large remaining capital debts from the extensive remodelling of the theatre - which re-opened in 2011 - that have left the Belltable in a difficult position, this newspaper understands.
Auditors Deloitte & Touche have been appointed to manage the company’s debts and wind it up.