The organisation which in 2013 provided £1,680,000 of public money for the £4,200,000 refurbishment of Penarth Pier Pavilion, has now pinpointed some the problems which have led – just 3 years on – to the Pavilion’s partial closure.
[The Penarth Pier Pavilion has been leased by the Vale of Glamorgan Council for 125 years to the “not-for-profit” company/charity Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd (a.k.a. PACL). In February PACL announced the closure of the Pavilion for 3 days a week form March 6th and the total shut-down of the integral Pavilion Cinema.]
Now the Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales – Richard Bellamy – has replied to concerns raised by Penarth campaigner Andrew Jones, who has spearheaded the drive to get the Pavilion Cinema re-opened.
In his letter – sent yesterday to Mr Jones – Richard Bellamy says the profits made by PACL have been “insufficient to meet the operating costs of the building resulting in an annual deficit” [deficit means an accumulating debt] .
Mr Bellamy goes on to say “Despite extensive efforts to close this operating gap and move into surplus, the continued deficit now threatens the organisation’s financial viability and the trustees of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd has a responsibility to address this issue“.
Bellamy’s less than grammatical letter wrongly refers to the Pier Pavilion as the “pier” – even though Penarth Pier is still in the hands of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and, unlike the Pier Pavilion, has not been leased to PACL
Bellamy goes on to say “The root of the piers” [sic] “problems is insufficient and inconsistent footfall, yet the cost of opening the pier 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, 362 days of the year throughout the year are significant [sic] .
On the integral Pier Pavilion Cinema, Bellamy says “The seasonality of use has become very apparent in terms of the cinema facility. The profit margins of a 60 seat cinema are very tight and providing such an extensive programme that sufficiently fills its capacity all year round is particularly challenging. Despite hard work by staff volunteers and trustees over the past three years of operation, it has become clear that continuing with the same business model is not an option. “
Bellamy denies that the £126,000 grant made in April to PACL is a “bail out” (an allegation not made by Andrew Jones) . He describes it as an “investment in the organisation to enable it to become sustainable and ensure Penarth Pier is protected and the building remains a public asset for the community. ” He says ” The grant will enable the Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd to:-
- Work with the Local Authority to consider increasing range and profitability of activities
- Take external advice on increasing profits from trading
- Develop a new detailed programming and marketing strategy
- Secure additional resources to deliver strategy, including bringing-in additional staff to free-up existing staff to spend more time fundraising.
He makes the point that unlike the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff , Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd (PACL) “receives no revenue funding support” and relies on one-off grants such as the “Coastal Community Fund” and the “Resilient Heritage Grant”.
Bellamy says in his letter to Andrew Jones : “I hope you can see that Penarth Arts and Crafts has recognised some of the weaknesses of the organisation, and with our financial assistance, are taking practical steps to address those weaknesses.” and says Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd “will continue to adjust the building opening times”.
He says “some of the criticism of Penarth Arts And Crafts Ltd has been both unfair and unhelpful”.
In response Andrew Jones has today told Bellamy in forthright terms that he has not addressed the “rightful concerns” raised in his original letter “over further large sums of public money being given to PACL”
Mr Jones is asking to see the evidence of claims made by Bellamy that PACL has made ‘extensive efforts to close this operating gap and move into surplus’. He alleges that the closure of the Pavilion Cinema “is entirely down to mismanagement by PACL through non payment to the ICO for film hire charges and meeting licensing obligations.” .
Mr Jones has now told Bellamy “We the residents of Penarth have thus been deprived of one of our best cultural assets in the town entirely due to mismanagement and NOT lack of support.” – and invites a further response from the Heritage Lottery Fund which, he hopes this time, will actually answer the concerns that he had originally raised.