The trustees of the Exeter Northcott have decided to place the theatre into administration.
Trustees were presented with financial information this week which showed the theatre to be insolvent, As a result of this the trustees decided they had no alternative but to appoint Ian Walker of Begbies Traynor in Exeter as joint administrator earlier today.
Exeter City Council and the University of Exeter have agreed to explore with the administrator ways of continuing to use the Theatre as an arts venue for the benefit of local people. They were among various organisations who contributed to the refurbishment of the Theatre in 2007 and provide annual grants towards its operating costs.
Chairman of Trustees Geoff Myers said: ‘We took this decision with a heavy heart, but when presented with the latest financial information we had no choice but to place the Theatre into administration. It is to be hoped that a way can be found to effect a rescue of the Theatre. In the meantime I would encourage theatre-goers to continue to support the Exeter Northcott in the knowledge that those who book their tickets while the Company is in administration will, in the event of any performances being cancelled, be issued with a full refund. I have been greatly encouraged by the response of stakeholders, who have agreed to do all they can to ensure the Theatre continues in some way as a performance venue.’
Administrator Ian Walker said: ‘In the short term is it our intention to try and ensure that all performances in the spring programme can continue and announcements will be made in the press and on the Exeter Northcott website as soon as possible. In the longer term I believe it is important to ensure a Theatre can be maintained in Exeter and I intend to hold discussions with all existing and possibly new stakeholders at the earliest opportunity.’
‘As regards ticket sales, anyone that has purchased tickets prior to today is unfortunately an unsecured creditor of the company. However, if we are able to ensure that productions do take place as planned, it is hoped that all existing obligations to ticket holders will be honoured. If it is not possible for any productions to take place, details will be posted on the theatre’s website and existing ticket holders will be unsecured creditors of the company. In practice, it is likely that most people will be covered by credit card guarantees in any event.
‘As regards the future, it is vitally important that members of the public do continue to support the theatre as without such support the theatre will not survive. Any tickets that are purchased from today will, in effect, be protected and, in the event that a production does not take place, such ticket holders will receive a refund. ‘
Philip Bostock, the Chief Executive of Exeter City Council, said: ‘The City Council will play an active role in any discussions to look at a way forward for the Northcott. We are wholly committed to the arts and the provision of high quality theatre for the city."
Drama Professor Nick Kaye, of the University of Exeter’, said: ‘The Theatre is a high quality venue and will continue to be made available for public performances. We will work with the other stakeholders to try and find a sustainable model to continue providing artistic events there.’
The Northcott Theatre was built on the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus in 1967. It is run as an entirely separate organisation from the University with its own board of trustees.
Ian joined Begbies in 2000 from Pannell Kerr Forster after practicing insolvency for the previous 20 years with Big Four firms. A member of R3 and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (from which he also takes his Insolvency Licence, he is currently a member of the ICAEW Investigation Committee. Over the years, Ian has dealt with all types of insolvency and at least three recessions. Currently, his practice based in Exeter and Plymouth covers the whole of Devon & Cornwall (including the Scilly Isles), together with as much of Somerset and Dorset as he can get away with! He deals with all types of personal and corporate insolvency and also concentrates on pre- and post-lending review work for all the major lending institutions.