BROMSGROVE'S foremost theatre and arts centre has been forced to bring down the curtain for the final time due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Artrix Arts Centre, which opened in 2005, announced on Tuesday it was to close its doors through insolvency after 15 years.

Bromsgrove District Council, which leases the building to the charity, said the Artrix's finances were already 'fragile' before the outbreak of the virus, which has killed tens of thousands of people globally.

Angela Galvin, the Artrix's director, confirmed that the centre - which, like all similar venues, closed indefinitely last month due to government guidelines - had been pushed over the edge by the pandemic.

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She said: “This is devastating news for the whole amazing Artrix family - our small but mighty team of paid staff who are losing the jobs to which they have dedicated themselves with such passion and vigour for so long, and our wonderful volunteers who have given thousands of hours to supporting our work, because they believe in what Artrix stands for. 

"We thank our staff and volunteers for everything. 

"Our hearts also go out to those who have bought tickets and made donations, the social and family groups, the carers, the artists, the workshop leaders and participants, and the local businesses who are part of the Artrix family and who will all feel the impact of our closure. 

"Over the past 15 years we have shown there is a need for an arts centre in Bromsgrove, the need is still there, the goodwill is still there. 

"We sincerely believe that when this extraordinary situation is over an arts centre for Bromsgrove will rise again.”

A statement from the centre's trustees revealed that the Artrix had been struggling to keep its head above water for two years.

In 2018, funding from its three main sources - Bromsgrove District Council, Heart of Worcestershire College and Worcestershire County Council - ceased, leaving the Artrix needing to find £115,000 per year.

The statement added that the 'tremendous hard work of our team and loyalty of our community' raised the prospects of survival but that Covid-19 had cut off the recovery.

The centre is ineligible for government grants or loans and has been hit by insurance companies' refusal to recognise coronavirus on their list of notifiable diseases.

Read more: Artrix closed due to coronavirus outbreak

Despite having put 18 of its staff on furlough through the government's Job Retention Scheme, claiming a 12-month business rates holiday and a three-month VAT deferral, the Artrix has still had monthly costs of almost £10,000 to cover.

The statement added: "With no income since March 16, and no certainty of returning to normal ticket sales and catering income for at least six months, our assets do not cover our liabilities and we are therefore technically insolvent."

There is a glimmer of light for arts lovers in Bromsgrove with the trustees' statement suggesting the Artrix may return in some form when the virus outbreak ends.

Bromsgrove District Council's portfolio-holder for leisure and cultural services, Cllr Phil Thomas, also remains positive.

He said: “Despite this news, which I know will impact on a lot of residents and visitors to the District who enjoyed this facility, we will continue to work with our partners to ensure there is an arts provision in Bromsgrove.”