Community groups asked if they want to run town theatres

The public meeting at the Arts Centre, in Devizes Road, to discuss potential cuts inSwindon Council’s subsidy of both the the Arts Centre and the Wyvern Theatre

The public meeting at the Arts Centre, in Devizes Road, to discuss potential cuts inSwindon Council’s subsidy of both the the Arts Centre and the Wyvern Theatre

First published in News by

ARTS groups are being invited to put together a bid to run the Arts Centre, in Old Town.

It is part of a drive by Swindon Council to slash its annual subsidy for leisure and cultural services by £3.6m by April 2014.

The council is developing a leisure and culture commissioning change programme to look at alternative ways of providing such facilities and their associated economic and wellbeing benefits as Government funding reduces and demand, particularly for social care services, is set to soar.

The Arts Centre, in Devizes Road, was subsidised by £168,000 in 2012/13 and the council is considering ways to reduce or eliminate running costs at both the Arts Centre and the Wyvern Theatre.

The council held a public meeting at the Arts Centre on Friday evening to explain the financial challenges it was facing.

And the community was invited to submit a business plan to take over the Arts Centre before the council searches for a potential private or charitable provider.

Speaking to about 100 people, Helen Miah, the commissioner for leisure, libraries and culture, agreed to provide a “shopping list” of minimum requirements the council wanted to be included in a business plan from community groups.

She said: “If people want to have individual meetings, individual groups want to come and talk to me, please get in touch, let me know. “If you think there’s a need for a further open meeting, we will have further open meetings.

“I’m not saying I need a full expression of interest but we need to get a sense as to whether there are any community groups who would be interested. “What I don’t want to do is wait for months and months and months for you to make your mind up.”

Alan Wrixon, the chairman of the Friends Of Swindon Arts Centre, said the group was still considering the options but the information so far provided by the council was not sufficient to enable a business case to be put together.

He said: “It frightened the life out of us when we looked at it because we were going to have to find in the order of £170,000 to £180,000 a year. “We haven’t proceeded too far on that yet, there’s a lot of information that’s not there at the moment.”

Other attendees suggested Swindon Council should do more to save costs or increase income at the Arts Centre, by hiring it out as a business seminar venue.

They also recommended that it should seek corporate sponsorship from media giants Orange and Sky.

Resident Suzanne Bullimore said: “I come to the Arts Centre for something, I go into the ladies’ loo and it’s absolutely roasting – the heating is on full pelt. “As a housewife who looks after a budget, who has to be prudent, we look in our own households to keep those costs down.”

Coun Garry Perkins, the cabinet member for economy, regeneration and culture, agreed to investigate sponsorship opportunities and pledged to give full support to groups interested in making a bid.

He said he could not see the whole subsidy for the Arts Centre going, and said he expected leisure centres to see the most radical changes, citing the example of the Oasis, which has transferred to private hands.

Comments (8)

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7:33am Mon 6 May 13

beach1e says...

Id think the Wyvern subsidy must be bigger than the Arts Centre one. Stop subsidising the Wyvern, its a horrible place, with terrible cheap "entertainment" and rip off prices.There are far better theatres around.
Id think the Wyvern subsidy must be bigger than the Arts Centre one. Stop subsidising the Wyvern, its a horrible place, with terrible cheap "entertainment" and rip off prices.There are far better theatres around. beach1e
  • Score: 0

9:20am Mon 6 May 13

Morsey says...

And, exactly what has Council Tax / Rates paid for, historically? Culture is part of a town's tradition ... it has to be funded and owned by the people.

This is a step in the wrong direction ... eventually, as per Tory (and Opposition views) we should own precisely NOWT!!!!!
And, exactly what has Council Tax / Rates paid for, historically? Culture is part of a town's tradition ... it has to be funded and owned by the people. This is a step in the wrong direction ... eventually, as per Tory (and Opposition views) we should own precisely NOWT!!!!! Morsey
  • Score: 0

3:10pm Mon 6 May 13

bampi says...

Stop throwing our money at waifs and strays i.e. the social layabouts and put some of our hard earned tax payers money into culture etc and making this town worth staying in. There always was enough money to fund the arts, so why not now?
Stop throwing our money at waifs and strays i.e. the social layabouts and put some of our hard earned tax payers money into culture etc and making this town worth staying in. There always was enough money to fund the arts, so why not now? bampi
  • Score: 0

6:08pm Mon 6 May 13

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

Morsey wrote:
And, exactly what has Council Tax / Rates paid for, historically? Culture is part of a town's tradition ... it has to be funded and owned by the people.

This is a step in the wrong direction ... eventually, as per Tory (and Opposition views) we should own precisely NOWT!!!!!
Define culture....? Everyone will have a different view on what it means.

In my experience very few people are regular theatre goers in part due to the cost and in part due to the stuff that is scheduled.

These types of things should be self funding. If they are unable to fund themselves then the question should be around why they can't.
[quote][p][bold]Morsey[/bold] wrote: And, exactly what has Council Tax / Rates paid for, historically? Culture is part of a town's tradition ... it has to be funded and owned by the people. This is a step in the wrong direction ... eventually, as per Tory (and Opposition views) we should own precisely NOWT!!!!![/p][/quote]Define culture....? Everyone will have a different view on what it means. In my experience very few people are regular theatre goers in part due to the cost and in part due to the stuff that is scheduled. These types of things should be self funding. If they are unable to fund themselves then the question should be around why they can't. LordAshOfTheBrake
  • Score: 0

7:26pm Mon 6 May 13

bampi says...

LordAshOfTheBrake wrote:
Morsey wrote: And, exactly what has Council Tax / Rates paid for, historically? Culture is part of a town's tradition ... it has to be funded and owned by the people. This is a step in the wrong direction ... eventually, as per Tory (and Opposition views) we should own precisely NOWT!!!!!
Define culture....? Everyone will have a different view on what it means. In my experience very few people are regular theatre goers in part due to the cost and in part due to the stuff that is scheduled. These types of things should be self funding. If they are unable to fund themselves then the question should be around why they can't.
Same with waifs and strays then?
[quote][p][bold]LordAshOfTheBrake[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Morsey[/bold] wrote: And, exactly what has Council Tax / Rates paid for, historically? Culture is part of a town's tradition ... it has to be funded and owned by the people. This is a step in the wrong direction ... eventually, as per Tory (and Opposition views) we should own precisely NOWT!!!!![/p][/quote]Define culture....? Everyone will have a different view on what it means. In my experience very few people are regular theatre goers in part due to the cost and in part due to the stuff that is scheduled. These types of things should be self funding. If they are unable to fund themselves then the question should be around why they can't.[/p][/quote]Same with waifs and strays then? bampi
  • Score: 0

8:07pm Mon 6 May 13

house on the hill says...

Define waifs and strays?
Define waifs and strays? house on the hill
  • Score: 0

9:25pm Mon 6 May 13

whaddahey?! says...

There are too many people whining and expecting special treatment when it comes to the arts. I'm all for enjoying a good night out and supporting local groups but if the majority of people from Swindon chose not to, thats their democratic choice. Why, when the councils budget has been cut so much, should arts groups then expect their minority interest hobbies to be subsidised by the tax-payer? I'd sooner see the cash being spent on decent provision for the elderly than propping up some dance troupe or theatre group.They either need to find cheaper smaller venues to carry on or put on shows which raise enough money to be commercially viable. Its called the real world, sadly.
There are too many people whining and expecting special treatment when it comes to the arts. I'm all for enjoying a good night out and supporting local groups but if the majority of people from Swindon chose not to, thats their democratic choice. Why, when the councils budget has been cut so much, should arts groups then expect their minority interest hobbies to be subsidised by the tax-payer? I'd sooner see the cash being spent on decent provision for the elderly than propping up some dance troupe or theatre group.They either need to find cheaper smaller venues to carry on or put on shows which raise enough money to be commercially viable. Its called the real world, sadly. whaddahey?!
  • Score: 0

8:46am Tue 7 May 13

bampi says...

house on the hill wrote:
Define waifs and strays?
Where do I start, the countrys full of them..........pop into swindon Town centre any day of the week!
[quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: Define waifs and strays?[/p][/quote]Where do I start, the countrys full of them..........pop into swindon Town centre any day of the week! bampi
  • Score: 0

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