In a shock announcement Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd (PACL) [the not-for-profit company which holds the lease on Penarth Pier Pavilion] – has said that ,starting next month, Penarth Pier Pavilion is to close on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The pavilion will be run on a 4-day-week basis (Thursday to Sunday inclusive) from March 6th 2017 and will be open on those days from 10:00 to 18:00. Operations are to be placed on a “seasonal” basis and the company says they “will be extended as we move into the summer months when the Esplanade becomes busier, both with local visitors and those from further afield.”
The custom-built 70 seat digital cinema at Penarth Pier Pavilion is to be closed “from Monday 6th March until after the summer”.
It’s understood that the number of people attending the cinema has fallen to a mere handful. On some nights as few as 4 paying-customers have been in the audience.
The cinema’s patronage hasn’t exactly been helped by the lack of outside posters and publicity-material promoting the movies being shown. Many people are still unaware there actually is a cinema in the Pier Pavilion . Another issue for the Pier Pavilion Cinema was the decision of the Labour-controlled Penarth Town Council to spend £35,000 of council-tax-payers’ money on setting up what is – in essence – a competing “Live Event Cinema” at the Paget Rooms . [PDN Note: The Paget Rooms live event cinema has suffered from a number of breakdowns, small audiences and last year made a profit of only £730].
In a message of reassurance to local organisations who book the Pier Pavilion’s main exhibition space for their activities, PACL says “ The Pavilion will still be available for use by local community groups all week” including “Tai Chi on Wednesday mornings” . The Pavilion will also continue to host toddler and parent groups from Penarth Library (whilst refurbishment of Penarth Library is under way) and will also be available for “venue hire”.
The cuts have been forced on PACL because the pavilion – which underwent a multi-million-pound Lottery-funded refurbishment in 2013 – just isn’t generating enough revenue to cover its operating costs .
There have been complaints that, despite the fact the Pavilion is supposed to be an art gallery, there are often no paintings actually on show there.
At one time the Pavilion was staffed by a mixture of salaried staff and volunteers – of whom there were more than 100 . Now there are no volunteers and only two staff members are managing a building which was seen – just 4 years ago – as the “Jewel in the Crown” of Penarth.
It’s understood that at one point the PACL directors / trustees considered closing down the Pavilion totally but agreed instead to limit opening hours whilst staff attempt to tap into new sources of revenue and bring in extra business.
Earlier this month PDN reported the resignation from the board of Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) who was said to have left for “entirely personal reasons”. Its understood, however, that PACL had been unable to get a response to urgent communications it has sent to its landlords – the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council of which Cllr Roberts is a member.
Both Cllr Roberts and a second director – Tom Bennett – resigned from the board on February 6th.
In the comparatively brief history of PACL, the company-cum-charity has seen an astonishing total of 37 directors come and go – some of them lasting just a few months before quitting. There are now 13 directors on the board – including the Mayor of Penarth, Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines). No director has yet been appointed to succeed Cllr Gwyn Roberts as the representative of the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
As a limited company, PACL cannot carry on trading if it becomes insolvent and therefore it was essential that drastic cost-cutting measures be put in place.
In a statement today the Penarth Arts and Crafts says “We are most grateful for the support that we have received from the general public since the restored Pavilion opened in December 2013 and believe that these changes will help to ensure the long-term future of the Pavilion.”