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Cambridge trust sells assets to meet rebuilding debt

The Cambridge Arts Trust is selling off its main assets, including the Arts Cinema, in an attempt to stem inancial damage caused by the Lottery-funded redevelopment of the Arts Theatre. Last week the Trust believed itself to be 'days away' from financial collapse, but its immediate problems have been stemmed by a £50,000 handout from the Arts Council, and completion of the sale of the Festival Theatre to become a Buddhist centre.

Richard Jarman, interim general manager of the trust, said that the 'original debt was an inherited debt' from the previous management. This was partly a result of the rebuilding works on the Arts Theatre 'being more complex than expected' and partly because of high losses in the first year after re-opening as the costs of marketing the new facilities was underestimated. Consultants, including Bland Brown Cole, architect for the scheme, are among the outstanding creditors.

As well as selling the Festival Theatre, the trust intends to sell the site of the Arts Cinema, which was previously to be redeveloped to a competition-winning design by French practice Decq and Cornette. Many of the facilities of the cinema will be incorporated in a development by City Screen within the first floor of the city's ABC Cinema. In a statement, the Cambridge Arts Trust said, 'In order to clear its inherited debts, the new management of the Arts Trust has no alternative but to sell its assets. The Festival Theatre has been sold, and because the Arts Theatre is leasehold it has little commercial value. This means that under any circumstances, including the sale of the Arts Theatre itself, the Arts Cinema site would have to be sold off to cancel the debt.'

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