THE cultural importance of troubled venue The Arches was heralded at a theatre awards ceremony in Glasgow.


Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) were held at the Tron Theatre in the city last night.

Awards - including the best actor gong which went to Outlander star Grant O'Rourke - were presented by comedian and actor Karen Dunbar and Tron Theatre artistic director, and The Arches founder, Andy Arnold.

O'Rourke, who plays Rupert MacKenzie in the TV show, won the Best Male Performance Award for his role in The Venetian Twins at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

Mr Arnold said: "I'm extremely sad that this has happened and feel particularly for the long-serving and hard-working staff. Most of all, Glasgow has lost a unique and extraordinary arts venue - a breeding ground for so much artistic talent - and the cultural profile of this city will be damaged as a result."

Speaking at the ceremony, CATS co-convenor Joyce McMillan said: "This is nevertheless a challenging time for theatre in Scotland with three of this year's winning companies facing uncertain futures.

"As the Royal Lyceum enters its 50th anniversary year it has to cope with a major cut in funding. Slope, meanwhile, may be the last Untitled Productions show in Scotland for some time.

"Now we appear to have lost The Arches, a trailblazing company that is one of the most tangible legacies of Glasgow's year as European Capital of Culture.

"We all sincerely wish that ways will be found to ensure the work commissioned and created by these wonderful companies continues to be part of Scotland's rich theatrical landscape."

The Arches announced on Wednesday that it would appoint administrators following the forced closure of its nightclub.

Management said they were ''left with no other choice'' after licensing bosses in Glasgow ruled last month that the venue will have to close at midnight every day over a series of police complaints about drug misuse and disorder.

The nightclub generated more than half of The Arches' annual turnover but early closing times have made the business model ''untenable''.

Almost 40,000 people have signed a petition calling for the reinstatement of the venue's licence and a group of 400 creative voices, including author Irvine Welsh, members of Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand, also signed an open letter calling on the Government and creative bodies to ensure The Arches remains as an arts venue.

Police raised licensing issues last year after the drugs-related death of 17-year-old Regane MacColl at the club and a number of other incidents.

The club agreed to implement a number of measures and it remained open, but issues were raised again recently.

The Scottish Government has said it will do all it can to help the venue.

Among the winners at last night's CATS awards, The Best Music and Sound Award went to Last Dream (On Earth), a Kai Fischer production in association with National Theatre of Scotland and Tron Theatre, Glasgow, while Stewart Laing's Untitled Projects. Slope, produced in partnership with KILTR, Citizens Theatre and Traverse Theatre Company, won the Best Technical Presentation Award.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle took Best Production, Best Female Performance (Amy Manson), Best Ensemble and Best Director (Mark Thomson).