Bankrupt Halle Orchestra may have to close unless rescuer is found

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The Independent Online
Manchester's world-renowned Halle Orchestra is just days away from collapse it was revealed yesterday. One of the country's most respected and revered cultural groups is effectively bankrupt.

Accountants will tell the Halle Concert Society board members tomorrow that, with cumulative debts of more than pounds 1m, it has reached the limits of its bank overdraft.

Now the Halle, founded by Charles Halle 140 years ago and brought to international fame by Freeman of Manchester, Sir John Barbirolli, is expected to report a trading loss this year.

A damning investigation carried out by accountants KPMG says the Halle is doomed unless a financial rescue package can be swiftly assembled. The cash crisis has climaxed despite the orchestra moving into the state- of-the-art pounds 42m Bridgewater Hall and concert attendances soaring by one- third. Sources blame the Halle's dire straits on a lack of financial control and suggested the board should go.

Extra help from the public sector funds - chiefly the Arts Council, Manchester City Council and other Greater Manchester authorities - is unlikely to be forthcoming before fundamental changes in management.

The only avenue open for the struggling musicians appears to be a loan from the Halle's endowment trust and, in the long term, a public appeal.

One insider criticised the Halle Concert Society's "archaic" structure.

The accountants KPMG are understood to have condemned the management's "general lack of control" and failure to develop a strategy on which to base decisions.

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