PENARTH ARTS & CRAFTS LTD RECOGNISE THEIR “WEAKNESSES ” – SAYS LOTTERY-FUND HEAD

Richard Bellamy Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales hasn’t answered all the questions posed about why more money was given to Penarth Pier Pavilion lessors Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd

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.]

Penarth resident and Pavilion cinema campaigner Andrew Jones (left) has raised concerns with Richard Bellamy of the Heritage Lottery Fund (right) about more public money going to Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – who run the Penarth Pier Pavilion

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] .

One of the main bones of contention is Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd’s decision to close the Pavilion Cinema which was built and paid for with public money – after just 3 years of operation

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.

 

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23 Responses to PENARTH ARTS & CRAFTS LTD RECOGNISE THEIR “WEAKNESSES ” – SAYS LOTTERY-FUND HEAD

  1. Mr Bellamy will naturally be on the list and invited by those on the proposed Vale and people that love ❤️ penarth community action and advocacy group; led by the institute of arbitrators with the Vale chief exec and new Leader at the helm, of the current sinking pacl ship and all those who sailed in her. Money for a marketing strategy – what… now!!

    Forget that, we need first, right here, right now Leader, an audit to know where we stand: as a community foreseen business: where the public money went all of it and an integrated business strategy moving forward that has a sustainable future.
    The cinema lovely as it is, tiny as it is, will fall into this thinking and can’t be dealt with in isolation at this point.

  2. Perry mccarthy says:

    I totally agree with mr Andrew Jones on this issue ! Mismanaged and out of their depth . What I am saying is “they haven’t got a clue” ! There should be something on every weekend in that room or what’s the point ?!

    • andrewsketty says:

      Indeed. If you look at the Pavilion’s May programme theres an exhibition of old signs, one Tea Dance, one musical performance and a quiz! unbelievable

  3. Chris David says:

    I’ve written to Mr Bellamy with some questions. For now I’ll highlight just this one here.
    “• Work with the Local Authority to consider increasing range and profitability of activities” !
    Would this be the authority that failed to bind PACL to reporting to it after handing over Public money? The Authority that stated PACL refused to open up its books and minutes to it? This just makes matter worse. Bellamy has demonstrated he hasn’t got a grip on things and hasn’t an understanding of business. His other points just highlight past failings in both planning and operation and demonstrate a new organisation is needed to run the Pavilion and cinema here on in. All four points are clarification of past and fundamental failures. Ask yourself this- would a successful parent company, a bank or a VC pump in more money to a subsidiary or investment that failed in planning and operation, has amateur failed management and hides its accounts and minutes? No? probably not? – but councils and lottery funds thinks that it’s fine practice to waste public money not once but twice (or more).

    • andrewsketty says:

      Absolutely correct Chris in every way!

      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.

      Has Richard Bellamy taken independent expert advise or is he just accepting PACL’s version to protect their own failings? For example he talks about a 60 seat cinema having very tight profit margins. But this is no ordinary cinema. It is housed within a larger Pavilion where overheads will (hopefully) be shared across the different cost centres. It relies in the main on volunteers to run the cinema front of house so hence these have no staffing costs. It spends next to nothing on marketing ( as per PACL’s own accounts). It also has the benefit of generating additional income from showing films such as shop ( if ever open), wine bar ( if ever open) and catering and food in a restaurant. That then leaves film hire and licensing costs which are a % of box office takings . As we know PACL appear to have not paid these leading to the sudden closure of the cinema. So Mr Bellamy have you factored all this in when deciding that after spending money to build the cinema in the first place – presumably based on Business Plan projections these were so far out to be pure fantasy?

      I know of places smaller than Penarth ( eg my home town of Brecon) which manage to operate a cinema on a commercial basis with no public subsidy, run by paid staff and with no other money making opportunities apart from sweets and ice cream.

      The people of Penarth are being treated like fools in all of this, Local businesses could easily and willingly step in to rescue the mess on the Pavilion, turn it around and certainly get the cinema open again on the same basis as before.

      What other cinema in the UK operates budgeting that every seat for every screening throughout the year sells? What other cinema in the UK opens only in the winter as there is no spring/summer footfall? It makes it a laughing stock and if Richard Bellamy believes PACL’s spin that is very worrying.

      And he still thinks criticism of PACL is unfair? As to it being ‘unhelpful’ then I’m afraid Hazell & Co only have themselves to blame for all of this

  4. Chris Wyatt says:

    The Penarth Civic Society has now also written to Richard Bellamy listing our concerns with the management of the Pavilion in respect of financial management, the cinema closure, the restaurant, the volunteer programme, the cancellation of the membership scheme, and the ineffective use of the Pavilion floorspace. Our recent letter to PACL along similar lines did receive a response but this was largely that we had got it all wrong, didn’t understand the issues involved, and that they were fully on top of the problems. We have so far seen little evidence of this and look forward to Mr Bellamy’s reply to our letter.

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      ‘Our’ letter? As a member of the Penarth society executive cmte I have not seen this letter nor has Max. So why not say Chris Wyatt that YOU wrote a letter. You can not claim it was sent by the society. Are you behaving like Prof Hazell? Does democracy mean nothing to you?

  5. AK says:

    Penarth Pier Pavillion needs to advertise that it has a cinema, and the Vale of Glamorgan Council needs to permit such advertising.

    Where are the cinema posters advertising what’s on and future shows?

    I bet my hat that the majority of visitors who walk by don’t even realise the pavillion contains a cinema.

    • andrewsketty says:

      The only cinema in UK that does not say it’s a cinema outside nor display what’s showing and times. As a regular attendee until it closed the only place they promoted forthcoming films was upstairs outside auditorium…in other words advertised only to people already going to see a film…and the Lottery are paying them £126 000 to get them commercial savvy. Unbelievable

  6. Penileaks says:

    Does anyone know exactly how much are the salaries of the management of the pavilion are, or are these hidden in the accounts that no one has seen thus far ?

    • andrewsketty says:

      I do not know how true this is but I was told that after Tony Hazel got rid of the Director day to day management rests with 2 staff each on £25k. The staffing bill for the cafe is out of sync with the market so income doesnt cover costs.

      • 92 and a social butterfly says:

        ‘The staffing bill for the cafe is out of sync with the market so income doesn’t cover costs’? …more on this please.

      • Chris David says:

        Well there may be some interesting background to this. Where did PACL acquire the painting? Any other complaints / cases? Has a fraud taken place somewhere in the trail(s). I’d certainly investigate- the behaviour you describe is despicable and maybe illegal / criminal. Hard to believe the onus is on you! If I sold you a Jaguar that turned out to be a Kia is that your fault? Sale of goods, trade descriptions- 2006 Fraud act? I say may of course as you’ll have to actually ask the questions and I haven’t seen the paperwork. Take some advice eh! Good luck with it and if it opens a door do let us all know. Oh and you may want to email Bellamy! I think he’s in danger of becoming “charged” with lack of due diligence and I’m certain he’s no businessman.

      • andrewsketty says:

        I dont have any further details I’m afraid. I only mentioned it as it did come from a reliable source so I have no reason to doubt

      • Penileaks says:

        Well I heard from a normally reliable source, that someone involved in the management of the place was on £60k and his deputy £30k. Anyone know if this is true ?
        If this was the case and two others were on £25k, the £126k lottery grant, plus takings from the café, would disappear in 12 months of chaotic trading……..and then the begging bowl would be out again next year.
        Accounts need to be seen, audited and commercially savvy people put in place to use this special facility as it should and for it to be a draw to Penarth 12 months of the year.

  7. janej says:

    I also think the Pavilion deserves better than PACL. We bought a picture by the inter war artist Duncan Grant from PACL in a blind auction in 2009.It was accompanied by an authentication sheet. In 2015 we decided to sell it. I asked Sotherby’s for an up to date valuation and got an immediate reply that it was probably a fake. Subsequent inquiries through Bonhams and Chrisities confirmed our worst fears. Since 2016 we have been trying unsuccessfully to get some, at least, of our money back. Despite our best efforts PACL have said that the responsibility to confirm a painting’s authenticity falls in the lap of the buyer not the seller. They would not even give us the commission of £345 they took on the picture. Applying for compensation more than six years after the sale makes it difficult to recover costs so there’s probably little more that we can do and the painting it seems is worthless. As far as I know PACL are still holding art sales. So watch out art lovers if you have bought a picture from them and get its authenticity checked before the six year Statute of Limitations period is up!

    • Penileaks says:

      There was recently a BBC TV show (I think Rip off Britain), that highlighted a very similar situation, where a specialist art shop sold paintings, supposedly by know and sought after artists, to unsuspecting customers.
      There was proved to be a well organised operation to produce these copies and then sell them on to crooked shops that passed them off as genuine.
      I am not suggesting that PACL knowingly sold the non genuine item in question, but one would have thought that someone there would check the provenance of such items before passing them off as genuine and if they themselves were fooled, they should at least accept responsibility for it not being genuine and return all monies involved.
      Take legal advice and chase the money !

  8. Chris Wyatt says:

    As someone who volunteered in the Pavilion for two years, I can confirm that the idea that the cinema could not be profitable is just not true. If you show films with a very limited appeal you cannot expect a large audience. Also, if the only marketing you carry out is on social media, you will obviously not reach those people who don’t use it. This is not to say you have to have to show films every day, but if you do market it effectively and accurately match your product to what customers want, you can fill the place. As an example, Wednesdsy afternoon matinees were almost always very well attended provided the film being offered catered to the mature, primarily female audience that enjoyed that genre. Also, some films had to have additional showings programmed as all of the initial schedule performances kept selling out – eg. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Lady in the Van, and it seemed like showings of Disney’s Frozen were going to go on for ever. Managing a small cinema profitably takes skill, but it is far from the impossibility both PACL and HLF seem to suggest.

  9. Chris David says:

    janej is this not a police matter? Will the limitation period defence automatically apply?
    In theory, no. A civil claim can still be made by the claimant even if the limitation period has passed. If the defendant wishes to strike it out on the basis that it is time barred, it must actively raise this as a defence.
    The court can still allow a claim can proceed, even where the limitation period has passed. However, the claim would have to be extremely strong for the court to do so, and there would normally have to be very good reasons for the court to allow the claim to continue; for instance, if the claim is not defended. Source Inbrief. Worth a go? In fact this might be the leverage required to investigate the whole affair?

      • Janej says:

        Thank you Chris for your suggestion. We can look into it being a police matter. I certainly feel pretty cheesed off with PACL and wanted to warn other art buyers to check their pictures for authenticity before the six year period particularly if they have bought them as a investment and want to sell them on.

        e

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