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Aberdeen Performing Arts forced to turn to £2 million loan to finance music hall project

Music Hall
Music Hall

Struggling fundraisers have had to turn to Aberdeen City Council for a multi-million-pound loan to fill the black hole in the Music Hall budget.

In documents seen by the Press and Journal, building managers Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) confirmed they had £2 million “deposited in our bank account” to pay for the £10 million redevelopment.

And last night a spokeswoman confirmed the charitable trust will aim to repay the loan within 30 years.

The building was closed for the work – initially costed at £7 million – in 2016 and a large scale fundraising campaign was launched to cover the costs.

It is now hailed as a “£9 million transformation”.

Minutes from a meeting of the APA board in November show that they had raised £6,782,425 and now had to turn to the council for a bailout.

Aberdeen Art Gallery

The loan was first discussed as far back as January 2016, but culture spokeswoman Marie Boulton said at the time it would only be sought as a “last resort”.

The minutes read: ”Loan repayments have been deferred until May 2019.”

They add that they will request the loan become a grant but that will require approval by a council committee.

The £10 million art gallery fundraising campaign has had similar and well publicised problems.

In January, the drive was still around £7 million short.

Last night, a local councillor said the council must ensure the money is in place before starting major projects.

Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Martin Greig said: “Given the financial climate in the city we have to be realistic about asking the public to fund these projects.

“As we are the lowest funded council in Scotland we need to be especially robust on the financial case for these big schemes.

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“While it is always desirable to upgrade these historic properties, it seems that asking the public for money is a failed strategy.”

An APA spokeswoman said: “Aberdeen Performing Arts has a £2 million loan with Aberdeen City Council, repayable within 30 years.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson said: “We currently have correspondence on this matter from APA and it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this stage.”

The iconic building will reopen its doors on December 8 and will boast an expanded basement area, new toilets, café and bar area and a relocated box office.

A new entrance and improved lift access are also part of the project.

Scots band Texas, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Travis frontman Fran Healy will perform at the venue in December.

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the financial regulatory body of the UK and is responsible for the conduct of more than 58,000 businesses.

It is independent of the government but has powers to carry out investigations under the Financial Services Act 2012.

It is able to specify minimum standards, place requirements on products and investigate organisations and individuals.

The enforcement powers of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) include the right to impose a penalty on a firm or person and make a public statement.

It also has the power to investigate and take disciplinary action. In addition, the FCA has the power to start criminal proceedings.

This is an especially important power when investigating market abuse, insider dealing and other “white-collar” crimes.


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