How do we keep theatres and arts centres in Darlington and Barnet open…

Convener(s): Mhora 

Participants: Kerry, Holly, Ella, Gary, Mark, Caroline, David, David, Dan, Jenny, Lynn… and more


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Lively discussion with Arts Depot in Barnet, Arts Centre in Darlington, and Stratford Circus in Newham - all facing cuts from local authorities/London Councils (in London) and reductions in ACE funding 

Also contributions and thoughts from BAC, Bradford, Royal & Derngate, Tricycle, Riverside…


Keeping open in the short term…

  • Politicians – national and local - need to be onside – when they’re not its VERY hard
  • Board has to be committed and strong
  • Harness community and local support as advocates to local politicians
  • Organisation needs to be planning how to remodel the business – for any eventuality
  • Negotiate time to manage transition – do we have more time in London following judicial view of London Councils?
  • Keep looking to the future – tell people about your vision and open the doors
  • Harness the energy of the local people who love you
  • You’re their arts centre in their community
  • Don’t be afraid of the Big Society
  • Where arts centre/arts service is local authority run – be ready to use your ‘right to challenge’ (Localism Bill) – could this happen in Bradford
  • Necessity is the mother of invention…
  • Change mindset
  • Change the language – investment not subsidy
  • Become more politically engaged
  • Run ‘I love my arts centre’ campaigns

Keeping open in the medium to long term…

Treat the loss of funds like a project – ask who you can work with in partnership for the next 4-5 years – survival doesn’t have to be about mergers and takeovers

Reinventing the business model and building local political and community relationships and partnerships – it took Royal & Derngate a year to do this

Become fashionable – build the venue up as a destination

If your venue allows find tenants that help to pay overheads

Build up endowments/buy buildings and run them commercially (Live Theatre, Newcastle)/bequests programmes

Become a provider of other services - run other arts and cultural buildings/bring other services into the building – community services/libraries

See if we can create corporate philanthropy models such as SESC’s in Brazil, where local businesses receive tax benefits from putting money into local arts centres (but these are complex)

Get involved with neighbourhood forums – could be able to access Community Infrastructure Levy funds in future

Keep a hold of your vision