Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Tenbury Regal - Management Trust is the future.

Local impresario Chris Davis, outlined the case to run the Tenbury Regal under a Management Trust at last nights meeting of the Town Council.

He correctly identified that in the past, the Regal had been owned and run by the Town Council, but in a non proactive way.  This meant that a wonderful local asset spent more time closed and sitting idle than it did, open, entertaining people and earning money.

Many local people didn’t really feel that they had ownership and consequently showed a lack of interest.  The Town Council are not in a position to commit additional resources either financially or in time, so without change the situation would not improve.

Chris and his committee, feel that if the Regal continued to be owned by the Town Council, but was managed by a Trust, there would be significant benefits.

Firstly, with more focused management, there would be more local ownership and much more opportunity for fund raising and for obtaining grants.  There would also be much more scope to make full use of the facility and therefore increase the income.

The plan is for the Trust to be overseen by a Board of Trustees, this board would include at least one Town Councillor, but would also include industry professionals, who have influence and connections.

There would also be a programming committee who would book and arrange all the events, including the cinema.  It is also hoped that a Drama School could be opened, not just for Children, but for anyone who wished to learn about performing and about stagecraft including lighting and sound.

A marketing committee would bring together the promotion of all the events, saving costs but also presenting much more coherent marketing, with perhaps a monthly poster or brochure.

The front of house committee would be responsible for providing the ushers and running a shop, cafe and bar, to maximise the earning potential of the building.

A proper box office would be established whereby people could book tickets for all events, including Internet and telephone booking.

A production committee would ensure that all the facilities of the Regal were available and volunteers or staff were in place to operate them.

Another part of the plan sees the formation of the “Regal Friends”, they would create their own mostly fund raising events, but would on occasion host, receptions or parties for visiting performers.

It is also hoped that both business and private sponsors would be willing to for instance to sponsor a seat.

In the year 2010-2011 the Regal cost just under £37,000 to run but only generated an income of just over £17,000.  So the net cost to the local Council tax payers was just under £20,000.

Under this plan, it is proposed that the trust pays to the Town Council a rent equivalent to the long term debt repayments that the Council are committed to, which is in the region of £4,000 a year, and that the Town Council provides the Trust with a £10,000 grant.  This would ensure that the current community events could continue to be hosted free or at the existing minimal non commercial rates.

It is envisaged that in a short time the Regal would start to generate an operating surplus which initially would be used to upgrade the technical equipment (which isn’t covered by the Heritage Lottery Grant) and then to redevelop the back stage area and community centre.

The immediate net effect to the Tenbury Town Council Tax precept payer would be a reduction from £20,000 to nearer £6,000, which under this scheme would be likely to reduce year on year, rather than increase.

The Town Councillors have been given a month to think about the proposal and will debate it further at the next full meeting of the Town Council on Monday 3rd October.


Anonymous said...

Rental of £4,000 a year is far too cheap. Town Council used to get more than that from renting out the shops at the front.
A grant of £10,000 a year? Why should local people pay £200 a week to subsidise The Regal?
A proper event at the Regal might sell 200 tickets at £10 each. That's £2,000. Make the tickets £11 each and you don't need that £200 subsidy, if there is one proper event a week.
Town Council must not rush into anything or it will be another Tenbury disaster, like when they had the Regal heating boiler replaced with something that wasn't allowed, or when they had that replaced with an electric boiler, without realising that electricity is expensive.
Town Council has a history of making the decision before they know the facts.
This needs to be thrown open to commercial operators and event promoters. It also needs to be put to the people of Tenbury, as it is our money the Council is playing with.
The Regal should earn money for the town - not cost us money.

@WR15 said...

I agree with some of your comments, but remember it is currently costing local people nearly £20,000 a year.

The "rental" is to cover the long term debts for the loans past Town Council's have taken out for items such as the new boiler.

I think if the Regal was run in this way then, within a few years it would be in a position to be paying money to the Council.

This option is a "not for profit" company. A commercial company could be engaged to manage the site, but that would be much more expensive.

If the local organisations such as TADS, TAOS, Town Band etc where happy to increase their ticket prices and pay a "commercial" hire rate then the grant may not be needed, but the job of a Town Council is to raise a precept to provide amenities for the local public. If they were to follow your (very valid) line of thinking, then the Tennis Club should pay sufficient fees to cover all the costs of the courts, the bowling club should pay sufficient fees to cover the costs of the bowling green, the football club.... the rugby club.... etc.

The biggest danger here is the Town Council not agreeing to change and the Regal to continue being under used and making huge losses.

Rugby fan 72 said...

Chris is the closet we have to an expert in the field....has anyone else come forward with anything as remotely sensible.....

If he is willing to run the events, are the people of Tenbury happy to support them?

I have personally enjoyed a number of the "Chuckle Nights", not everyones cup of tea but there has certainly been full houses!

@WR15 said...

One the infrastructure is in place the Regal is an ideal venue for a whole host of shows. Chris has already proved that people are willing to travel to see a show and will also spring for accommodation as well. There are many touring companies who bypass the Regal because having to create their own box office and provide all their own house staff, refreshment sellers, technicians etc. is too much trouble. With the digital projector it would also be possible to have everything from the big boxing matches to opera and ballet beamed in, but again it needs the infrastructure in place.