COUNCIL bosses have backed a new rescue plan to try to save the crisis-hit Beacon Arts Centre.

At private talks in the Municipal Buildings councillors agreed to release the first instalment of their agreed annual £200,000 support grant for the arts centre - on the condition that certain actions were taken.

A crunch decision on whether the theatre needs a bailout package will not be taken until a later date.

A new chair, headhunted by council officials, is also set to be put in place to try to steady the ship.

The Tele exclusively revealed last week that the Beacon is back in financial trouble, with six directors also quitting the board.

In recent weeks senior council officials have worked with the arts centre to come up with a blueprint to keep it open.

A source told the Tele: "There is no desire to put the Greenock Arts Guild Ltd [parent company] into administration and for the Beacon to close at this stage - no one wants to see that happen.

"But there are tough decisions required to make the Beacon viable."

The Tele understands that there was backing for a 'credible' rescue plan and both Inverclyde Council and Creative Scotland will continue to support the venue.

But an insider said: "They have to find a way of making it viable because this cannot go on indefinitely.

"A decision will have to be made in the long term.

"There are long-running management issues that have not been resolved."

One of the key issues facing the Beacon is finding a way to make the bistro restaurant pay.

When the venue was built at a cost of £13m, part of the business plan was to use the restaurant as a surplus source of cash but instead it has been bedevilled by problems from day one.

Last week the Tele reported that chairman Gordon Armour had stepped aside along with several other directors.

Chief executive Sean Paul O'Hare is meanwhile still on gardening leave amid a probe into allegations of gross misconduct.

A council spokesman said: “The council has in place governance arrangements with the Greenock Arts Guild board and part of those arrangements allow for the release of agreed funds.

"Funds for the Beacon Arts Centre from the council are only released based on agreed actions and the committee met this week to review the current position including the recent board changes and planned actions.

"It is in Inverclyde’s interests to ensure that the Beacon Arts Centre is a thriving, successful and well-run organisation not just for here, but as part of the Scottish arts and culture scene.

"The council, as one of the major supporters, continues to be fully committed to ensuring that.”