Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Finance boss claims ‘crystal ball’ needed to discuss future of crisis-hit Aberdeen Performing Arts

His Majesty's Theatre has announced two new shows for 2021.
His Majesty's Theatre has announced two new shows for 2021.

A council finance chief claimed he would need a “crystal ball” to be able to predict the ultimate impact of the pandemic on Aberdeen’s ailing arts organisation.

Jonathan Belford has briefed councillors on the hardship faced by the local authority’s arms-length external organisations (ALEOs) set up to run a number of local services.

The audit, risk and scrutiny committee was considering the financial position of bodies including Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA), Sport Aberdeen, Aberdeen Sports Village, Bon Accord Care and Aberdeen Heat and Power.

The risk was upgraded to “high” at APA this month, with it looking increasing unlikely the organisation will be able to fully re-open until April 2021, Mr Belford’s report said.

As of last week, 96% of its staff remained on furlough.

The culture ALEO runs His Majesty’s Theatre, the recently renovated Music Hall and the Lemon Tree.

Asked if anything more could be done to mitigate the potential risks, chief finance officer Mr Belford told councillors: “That’s a challenging question.

“You’d need a crystal ball to understand what the environment will look like and when to plan to open and get a customer base back in.

“In terms of where we are mitigating, what we have seen is the organisations including APA have accessed government funding where available, the grants and so on.

“I do not doubt the support scheme will continue to add further to that.

“It is difficult to mitigate that risk directly at this moment – we have to continue to monitor that and work closely with ALEOs to maintain an understanding of what the situation is.”

On Wednesday, Mr Belford gave evidence at a meeting of Holyrood’s local government committee, outlining the financial impact of the pandemic on council coffers.

He highlighted the plight of APA and Sport Aberdeen – rated at medium risk in his report – on the national stage.

Mr Belford said there was a “clear and immediate impact” on council ALEOs where customers were the main source of income.

“In terms of scale, it would be helpful maybe to say, from an Aberdeen perspective, that amounts to about £20m of external customer income that was immediately switched off,” he told the Scottish Parliament committee.

“So they went into a particularly challenging position.”

But council bosses and ALEOs have been in weekly contact since the onset of the lockdown – and the officials have backed the course the organisations have taken through the emergency.

Mr Belford told councillors the risk rating, looking at the financial danger to the council, was “more about the environment we are in” than the management of the organisations, which he hailed as having proven “particularly effective”.

But he added: “If restrictions and changes aren’t lifted next year then undoubtedly we do have an environment that presents a higher risk to the council.”

There is no definite date for Sport Aberdeen’s many venues to become fully operational again – and the same was noted about the separate Aberdeen Sports Village.

The impact of the pandemic on Bon Accord Care – the ALEO running council care homes – was also noted by councillors.

Already a subscriber? Sign in