The Ormeau Baths Gallery (OBG) called in an insolvency firm this week with four full time jobs currently at risk.

Snowballing financial difficulties at the Ormeau Avenue is expected to bring an end to 16 years of the gallery hosting some of South Belfast’s premier art exhibitions.

OBG’s board chairman Martin Bradley told the South Belfast News that the Ormeau Baths have been struggling to raise revenue in the past number of years, and a number of discussions towards generating income have failed to alleviate the financial stress. The gallery receives £300,000 annually from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

“Our concerns have prompted the board into formally engaging with an insolvency practise, and unfortunately, that is the position we are in now,” Martin explained.

“The gallery is still open, and will remain so while this process takes place. We are aware that public funding is being spent, and believe me, the board are gutted that we have got to this stage. However, the current economic climate has placed us under immense pressure, and the trusts and foundations which helped us raise money are unable to do so as everyone is feeling the squeeze.”

Ideas to raise extra cash have included hiring the gallery out as a wedding venue, and charging an entrance fee, however, no firm financial income has been secured.

“We have found the public appetite for commercial exhibitions that we could charge for just isn’t there. Sadly, we currently can’t see any way out of this difficulty. We have been keeping our staff informed every step of the way, and they are of course disappointed at the stage we are at now.”

A spokesperson for the Arts Council said if the Ormeau Baths were to remain open, the annual funding would continue.