Venue: Council Chamber - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Penny Robins. Councillor Mark Whittington would be substituting for Councillor Robins, for this meeting only.
Disclosure of Interests
Members are asked to disclose any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.
No disclosures of interest were received.
This report sets out the background, outcomes and recommendations for Member consideration, following the receipt of an independent review of the Council’s Arts, Culture and Events Service.
The Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy presented a report which updated Members following receipt of an independent review of the Council’s Arts, Culture and Events Service. The Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy assured the Committee that no arts venues were at risk of closure.
The review had been conducted by Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy (SLC) at a cost of below £10,000 in December 2020. The scope of the review covered the three arts centres (the Guildhall in Grantham, Stamford Arts Centre and Bourne Corn Exchange) and arts events.
Mr David Rushton from SLC was present and provided an outline of the review’s key findings. Mr Rushton referred to a number of concerns outlined in the report, including the high level of subsidy the arts centres received, how the three arts centres operated independently to each other and to the Council, how it was unclear who the service was targeted at, and high staffing costs. The review had identified areas where potential savings could be made and suggested the adoption of a different operating model longer term, for example via a Trust Model.
During discussion, Members agreed that it was good management practice to review how the Council’s services were provided to ensure efficiency and value for money.
One Member asked a question with regards to Bourne Corn Exchange. As it was a multi-purpose venue, hosting South Kesteven District Council (SKDC) offices as well as the Registry Office, the fairness of including this in the review was queried when a significant proportion of its costs could not be attributed to arts in general.
It was confirmed that the allocation of costs of the Bourne Corn Exchange had been separated out, so the review had focused only on the operational costs.
One Member expressed they felt central Government cuts had led to a lack of funding for arts provision.
During discussion, some Members took issue with how the review had been conducted. Numerical errors within the report were referred to. Concerns were raised that the consultation had taken place after Cabinet and Full Council meetings, rather than before. Some Members criticised the fact that volunteers working at the arts centres had not been consulted as part of the review.
The Director of Growth and Culture confirmed that all arts staff had been made aware of the review and had been invited to attend a separate briefing.
Mr Rushton noted that the recommendations outlined in the review were only advisory and that the key message was that the Council should undertake a management appraisal to assess a range of alternative management options in the long term, for example, running the service through a local authority trading company. That would be a long-term option. At the moment, the service was not in a position where it could be put to market, if needed.
Centralisation was discussed by Members. It was stated that centralisation had mostly occurred in relation to back-office services, as opposed to those in the front office. ... view the full minutes text for item 14.