Crumbling concrete at concert hall leaves amateur performers in limbo

Operatic society's performance of Oklahoma! cancelled after RAAC found in the roof of Motherwell Concert Hall.

Performers say they have been left in limbo following the sudden closure of Motherwell Concert Hall after potentially weak concrete, know as RAAC, was found in the building’s roof.

Airdrie and Coatbridge Amateur Operatic Society were taking part in their final dress rehearsal at the venue last week.

But, for the second time in three years, their production of Oklahoma! has been shelved, after it was also disrupted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Just one day from opening night, the group was informed by surveyors that potentially dangerous concrete had been found in the building, along with some evidence of water ingress in the roof.

Dozens of productions were shut down with immediate effect.

Laura Johnstone, a performer with the society, told STV News: “We’ve been in this position before.

“Unfortunately, with the closure of the production in 2020 due to Covid, which was at the exact same point, we were on our dress rehearsal night when this happened.

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“So that’s probably where my head went to first, is how are we doing this again? How am I in a position to be delivering this message again? I can’t look at them all. I can’t look at their faces and tell them that this is happening again.

“Lightning shouldn’t strike twice, but it has.”

The group face an insurance claim to refund four days’ worth of shows. Lead actress Katie, who originally auditioned in 2019, also expressed her disappointment.

She said: “To know audiences wouldn’t get to see it, and we won’t get that moment of feeling we did it, to have that taken away, it’s just, that’s the gut punch a wee bit for me.”

A spokesperson for North Lanarkshire Council said they had contacted everyone with bookings up to the end of September to notify them that tickets are being refunded.

Ministers are continuing to investigate the scale of the problem in public buildings in Scotland, with latest figures suggesting it is now present in 29 sites across 11 universities, 40 schools and 250 NHS buildings.

It comes as the UK Government announced it would close more than 100 schools due to the faulty concrete after it was linked to the collapse of a school roof in Kent.

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