Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 14:02 UK

Design centre in administration

The Lighthouse (photo from Page & Park Architects)
The Lighthouse was opened by the Queen 10 years ago

Scotland's centre for architecture and design, The Lighthouse, has gone into administration after failing to resolve long-standing budget difficulties.

The board took the decision to wind the centre up after a meeting on Monday.

The centre in Glasgow, which opened in 1999 and employed 57 staff, had been struggling with falling revenues in the recession and a budget deficit.

Its Rennie Mackintosh-designed building in Mitchell Lane will remain open while administrators assess the situation.

Staff were told the news on Tuesday morning.

The chair of the board of The Lighthouse Trust, Eleanor McAllister OBE, described the decision to call in the administrators as "heartbreaking".

"We know the devastating effect this will have on our staff and on the partners working with us on our projects," she said.

"We have done everything possible to avoid this, but the options before us were very limited in the current economic downturn."

The Lighthouse, already in a vulnerable position and with no reserves to call on, has not been able to rally
Eleanor McAllister
The Lighthouse Trust

It emerged last year that The Lighthouse had run up a £300,000 budget deficit.

A rescue package was agreed that saw Glasgow City Council increase its core funding by £50,000.

The centre was also given a £250,000 loan to clear its deficit and help increase its commercial revenue.

Last month, it emerged that 44 of the 57 staff were under threat after income targets had not been met.

The trust board put a business restructuring plan out to consultation in a bid to save the centre but it emerged on Tuesday that its efforts had failed.

'Crisis package'

Ms McAllister added: "Last year, with additional support from our main funders, the city council and the Scottish Government, we put a crisis package in place to secure our immediate future and to enable us to continue our educational and exhibition programmes both within and beyond The Lighthouse.

"That new package was very dependent on maintaining the income generated from our commercial activities.

"However, the extra income we needed from rents, grants and conference and events just did not materialise as businesses, organisations and charitable trusts cut back on their activities when the credit crunch hit and the recession deepened.

Whilst we assess the position, the building will remain open for business
Bruce Cartwright
PricewaterhouseCoopers

"The Lighthouse, already in a vulnerable position and with no reserves to call on, has not been able to rally."

Ms McAllister said the board and administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers, hoped to secure the future of the historic Mackintosh building.

She also said they hoped to "find a way for The Lighthouse to continue in some way to fulfil its vital role as Scotland's National Centre for Architecture, Design and the City".

Glasgow City Council, which owns the Mackintosh building, said it would explore ways to keep it open.

Councillor George Ryan, executive member for business and the economy, said: "The council will work closely with administrators to look at options that could allow the property to operate as a council-managed business centre with a focus on the architecture, design and creative industry communities.

"I am encouraged by the level of unsolicited interest that has been received from businesses, projects and organisations that consider the Lighthouse an ideal location."

Bruce Cartwright, head of business recovery services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: "Our immediate priority is to investigate all possible options with an open mind to determine if a sustainable economic structure can be delivered that will enable The Lighthouse Trust to continue its existing role and fulfil any immediate commitments.

"Whilst we assess the position, the building will remain open for business."



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Design centre facing cash crisis
28 Oct 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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