THE Eastgate Theatre’s board of directors has issued a plea for patience as it looks to address “pressing issues” at the treasured arts hub.

Last month chairman Dr Jamie Hill said the facility’s financial situation was “perilous”, referencing “a perfect storm” of record inflation and grant funding difficulties.

Tens of people packed the main auditorium last week for a special meeting arranged by a newly-formed Eastgate Partnership group – containing friends and supporters of the theatre.

The concerns voiced included staff vacancies, the future employment of current workers and a reported lack of funding applications.

“The situation turned out to be even worse than we feared,” said Eastgate Partnership chairwoman Alex Saunders. “The meeting gave us all a greater understanding of the board’s position, although not everyone is convinced that their approach is correct.

“The meeting did highlight the increasing pressures on the remaining staff which is reaching a critical stage.

“Without the staff, the theatre cannot function.

“There seems to be a damaging disconnect between the board on one side and the staff and the Eastgate community – those who hire, use, and visit the venue – on the other side.”

More than 90 questions had been submitted in advance to last week’s meeting.

These were reduced to represent the key concerns raised by worried members, practitioners, staff and volunteers.

Six of the seven board members, including Dr Hill, were present, along with former general manager Caroline Adam, workers and more than 120 others.

Ms Adam, who is now a volunteer at the Eastgate, has offered to step in as operational manager for a nominal fee, according to the group.

Ms Saunders appealed for anyone able to offer practical support to come forward.

“While the board tells us they want to move on from the past, it is critically important to halt the current decline in confidence in the theatre as a viable arts venue with a future,” she added.

The partnership group said proposals put forward at the meeting were being collated with a view to setting up a new model of community support to help the much-loved arts hub move forward.

Further details are expected to follow soon.

The meeting also discussed the possibility of creating an Eastgate Recovery Group of relevant stakeholders to work collaboratively to develop an ‘achievable solution to the crisis’.

A spokesperson for the Eastgate’s board said: “We thank our friends and supporters of the theatre for their concerns and ideas to help the theatre at this difficult time.

“The board is continuing to manage the financial situation that the theatre finds itself in.

“We need to be clear that the financial situation has not been created recently but is a longstanding issue over a significant number of years.

“The board is looking at a range of options and working collaboratively with many partners including Scottish Borders Council (SBC), South of Scotland Enterprise, Live Borders which will help in the short-term as well as putting in place a recovery plan and balanced budget.

“We have also secured a loan from SBC which will enable us to move forward into a new sustainable position.

“This will take time and we ask the public and our supporters to bear with us until we can resolve some of the pressing issues.”