Blank screen: After considerable public concern was expressed at the closure of 3 year old cinema, Penarth Arts & Crafts chairman Professor Tony Hazell told BBC News in May 2017 that the cinema would be re-opened in September – but the latest statement from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) casts doubt on that promise.

The Heritage Lottery Fund [ HLF]  – the organisation that funded much of the renovation of Penarth Pier Pavilion  – has said it cannot force the Pavilion leaseholders – Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – to re-open the Pavilion’s 3-year-old 68-seat digital cinema.

Penarth resident Andrew Jones initiated a petition to re-open the Pavilion Cinema

Richard Bellamy of the Wales Office of the Heritage Lottery Fund

The Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, Richard Bellamy, has now given his most detailed exposition yet of the problems that currently beset the Pier Pavilion,  its integral cinema, and the building’s leaseholders Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd [ a.k.a PACL].

In a letter to local resident Andrew Jones  – who has campaigned to get the Pavilion Cinema re-opened –  a great deal of hitherto undisclosed information is made public for the first time.

Mr Bellamy says the information he has received is as the result of responses he’s received from Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd. In his letter Mr Bellamy reveals that  :-

  • The Pavilion Cinema  was originally described as a “multi-functional auditorium” within the renovated Penarth Pier Pavilion – not a cinema, per se.
  • The idea of including projection equipment capable of providing “cinema-quality films” was –  HLF now claims – “a very late addition to the project” .
  • Mr Bellamy states  “We [ i.e. the Heritage Lottery Fund] therefore do not consider that we funded a Cinema”. – a statement which appears to suggest that the Heritage Lottery Fund may now be distancing itself from the original decision to incorporate the cinema in the restored Penarth Pier Pavilion – or perhaps was never involved in that decision in the first place.
  • Mr Bellamy goes on to say that “ The experience of three years of operation has shown that rather than a source of income, a 6-days-a-week cinema offer, in the traditional sense, actually costs the Pavilion money.”
  • He says Heritage Lottery Fund “will not compel PACL to provide a facility or service that might put at risk the long-term sustainability of the building”

HLF claims that the Pier Pavilion cinema is a drain on Pavilion finances and does not make any money even from a full house – meaning that these seats are likely to stay empty

There is also sotto-voce criticism of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd [PACL] in Mr Bellamy’s letter . He says :-

  • “I am sure the PACL [sic] would not defend every aspect of their approach to marketing the facilities available at the Pavilion building, and part of the grant we have awarded to the organisation [i.e. the latest grant of £126,000] will allow them to take more professional advice on what they do going forward with this aspect of their business.”
  • “I think PACL do need to provide the public with more information as to the future direction of the organisation.”
  • “PACL acknowledge that they face serious challenges  in securing a sustainable future for  the Pavilion Building”
  •   “If nothing was wrong with way the building has been run for its first 3 years, and every decision that had been made was the correct one, then further support to enable change would not be necessary.  It is clear that this is not the case…”

Mr Bellamy’s letter also reveals a new initiative to restore what was once a team of more than 100 volunteers to help run Penarth Pier Pavilion  – a team which has now dwindled to a handful.

Part of the HLF £126,000 grant [ referred to above] is to be “used to employ a coordinator to support existing volunteers and gradually rebuild a volunteer base with the skills and experience the Pavilion will need to support a sustainable future”.

As  Wales HLF head, Mr Bellamy also stresses the support that PACL and the Pavilion will need in the future from the public.

He says :-  ” It will need users of its facilities, volunteers to help staff and support its events programme and, more than likely, donors willing to financially support elements of its operation that are not commercially self-supporting.  In order to achieve this support PACL will need to successfully communicate its plans for the future and I will be urging them to do so once they have been fully formed and financially tested.”

The Vale of Glamorgan Council – which owns Penarth Pier and leases the Pier Pavilion to Penarth Arts and Crafts – has also contributed large sums of public money to the renovation. It holds a permanent seat on the board of PACL for a nominee/trustee/director but has yet to appoint a successor to former Labour councillor Gwyn Roberts  who held the position until he resigned in February this year. The new Conservative administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council is due to nominate a successor to Gwyn Roberts next week.

Welsh-speaking business executive and  father of two Bill Rees – Conservative candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth – aims to champion the cause of Penarth Pier Pavilion

Meanwhile Penarth Pier Pavilion has become a local General Election issue with both Labour and Conservative candidates claiming involvement.

Conservative candidate Bill Rees says, in his latest leaflet, that ” If elected I will be a strong voice for local people,championing the cause of the Pier Pavilion”   

Labour candidate Stephen Doughty in his most recent election circular says “We all want the Pier Pavilion and Cinema open full-time and working sustainably. I have been working with everyone involved asking challenging questions to ensure that challenges are addressed” [sic] .

PDN NOTE: The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) had contributed  £1,784,800 in public money to PACL towards the £4,200,000 cost of renovating Penarth Pier Pavilion and had awarded a further £200,000 from its Coastal Communities Fund . This year HLF  received a further request for financial help from PACL and awarded the not for profit company/charity a further grant of £126,000.

Against the background of PACL’s decision in February this year to close the Pavilion Cinema from March 6th and to reduce the opening hours of the Pavilion itself, Penarth resident Andrew Jones had formally queried the decision to award a second grant to PACL. The letter from Mr Bellamy is a second response from HLF as the first response had not dealt with all the issues Mr Jones had raised. 

Almost half of the money (46%) which is staked by people buying tickets for the  National Lottery is not re-distributed in prize-money to lottery players, but is spent on “worthy causes” by the Heritage Lottery Fund. All the money is public money.

About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
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  1. Penarth says:

    Come on Nicky🦄

    • Ken says:

      …be patient; any time now…

    • Philip Rapier says:

      A man went to the florists and said “My wifes’s just had a baby can I have a bunch of dandelions?”. The florist said “that’s not very nice” so the man said “Sorry! Can I have a bunch of dandelions– please–?
      An old joke or a lesson perhaps in how spin works. There is a reason for the cautious “spin” from HLF Wales and cause for optimism. The PACL edifice is crumbling so be patient it will fall a brick at a time but the end of their reign is very close now.

      Please keep the Invisible Man Tory Candidate Utility “Bill” Rees out of this and whatever you do make sure he doesn’t encourage sourcing the Cafe’s Energy Supply from his employer British Gas.
      As uSwitch Energy Expert Claire Osbone warned British Gas customers last February – that- ” while this (price freeze to Aug 17) seems like good news, “… when you consider [British Gas’s] standard plan is £210 more expensive than the cheapest plan on the market – you soon realise this isn’t the excellent news British Gas claims.

  2. andrewsketty says:

    I was astonished to read that HLF appear to justify their continued support by suddenly suggesting that they didn’t fund the cinema. Kitting out a digital cinema would not have come cheap and there’s no way PACL could fund this themselves. If HLF didn’t that rather puts the spotlight back onto the Vale Council – as I understand they were the only other major funders?
    In terms of Richard Bellamy’s somewhat ill-informed response in terms of cinema operation and marketing I would point out to him that if 100 people knew there was a cinema you would always expect 90 to want to see a blockbuster and 15 maybe for a subtitled French film. You would work out your financial projections and audiences accordingly and as PACL were a client of the ICO that would be a given. The fact extra screenings of La La Land had to be put on hardly proves everyone in Penarth knew about the cinema being there. Ridiculous!
    If the cinema was closed as it wasn’t making money then that means the whole place should close. As I understand from people who have seen the books the cafe doesn’t cover its costs and the main hall is hardly ever used. In fact if you go on their website you will see a picture this week they have posted on their twitter feed of a bouncy castle inflated in the auditorium as part of half term activities. Is that really the best they can do?
    As for him expecting us to support the activities at the Pavilion then they have to provide things we want. The cinema was the most valued part of the operation. I have not been inside the Pavilion since the cinema closed and why would I when there’s no reason to. The much criticised cafe now has even more competition from the nearby Crazy Cafe so even less reason for people to go there
    It’s incredible that Mr Bellamy thinks the criticism of PACL is unfair…but then again by his own admission he doesn’t live here in Penarth

    • David Moorcraft says:

      Who ever thought that Arts and Crafts could continuously find enough material or “events” to keep the main hall of the Pier Pavilion attracting visitors ?
      If there were (even “Tea”) dances or something similar, but static displays of photographs / paintings or butterflies were never going to justify what could become a shiny , empty “White Elephant on Sea”.
      (My parents met and danced in the Marina, but latterly even Langdon Doidge couldn’t fill it)

    • Matt says:

      Andrew, have you had any response from our new councillors yet? The last time you posted you mentioned that they hadn’t replied to either email or tweets.

      • andrewsketty says:

        Hello Matt…having chased up yet again -this time using their new VoG e mail addresses I eventually had this holding response from Cllr Neil Thomas last Wednesday ‘Thank you for your email. I will discuss this with Ruba and hopefully we can come up with some mutually convenient time to meet. ‘ Nothing further since….

  3. andrewsketty says:

    All jokes aside about Nicki this is an important issue for so many. A local Penarth lady posted this last night on my petition page which rather sums up most of our experience with PACL – yet local politicians, funders, partners seem totally unwilling to accept any criticism of this organisation and want to defend and protect them at all costs :-

    ‘I have written three letters to Tony Hazell and he has replied to just one of these . I regret to say that he seems entirely unwilling to engage on any level with anyone who criticizes or in my case tries to make helpful suggestions . He was sitting at the desk in the Pavilion foyer on Monday and I introduced myself as the person who had written to him . Instead of enagaging with me and telling me what was going on he looked very very cross and said that the matter of the way forward was now “in the hands of professionals” . Effectively I was brushed off for daring to question what had been happening. We do seem to be landed with a committee or body which is unwilling for whatever reason to engage with the public to whom they are responsible .’

    I love Penarth but am staggered that a town held up nationally as one of the best places to live is being mercilessly held back and run as a feudal kingdom. PACL epitomises this

    Anyone who wishes to read Ricahrd Bellamy’s letter in full can do so via the updates page on my petition site https://www.change.org/p/tony-hazell-keep-penarth-pier-pavilion-cinema-open/u/20421965

  4. Jan Harding says:

    Mr Bellamy doesnt live in Penarth but has he visited? seen our situation here? got friends here?
    Would appreciate if Perdita Hunt OBE DL a Trustee of Heritage Lottery Fund who is a trained Arts administrator and used to work at Chaper Arts and
    Sally Edwards a member of the Committee for Wales at HLF who has a lot of experience and worked regenerating a Welsh seaside resort could get involved and help us, they seem to have the knowledge to know the best way forward to save our Pavilion and Cinema.

    • Big Davey says:

      I am not sure we need grant jockeys and charity hopefuls to help with this project. It needs people like Andrew Sketty who clearly know way more than anyone on PACL about the movie/cinema industry and he is clearly commercially astute. It also needs someone that knows how to run a venue space commercially and some catering knowledge.

      What skills sets do PACL board members have that are at all relevant to running this fabulous facility. Even if they don’t have the skills they certainly aren’t self aware enough to co-opt in people that do know what they are talking about. It seems that this is doomed whilst the existing chair and board are in place. The Vale need to intercede and have a clear out.

  5. The Rat Catcher says:

    Should someone check if they “the men in white coats” have carted Nicky off – she’s very slow this morning

  6. WatchfulEye says:

    Charities have little to no incentive to operate a productive business as they have no profit motive. They are allocative inefficient and have high x-inefficiency(I can imagine), this is a clear misallocation of resources and bodes no positive multiplier effects to the local economy. This is an example of market failure, this charity should be allowed to fail and subsidies should stop. This prime piece of property should be marketed and sold to a private firm. We will see a vast improvement in the quality of service supplied and perhaps the re-opening of the cinema. Private firms 90% of the time have incentives to profit maximise, this will result in a more allocative market (perhaps in the long run) and result in growth for the pier and its surrounding area.

    • WatchfulEye says:

      exchange ‘allocative’ for ‘productive’

    • Local Eye says:

      Perhaps it could be sold to Mecca Bingo and the cinema turned into a casino. Penarth Pier sign could be replaced by Mecca so opening it up to a whole new customer base. Might be a lot less posh but would be highly profitable and keep all the local pensioners amused.

      • Just a thought! says:

        Should revert back to the dance hall/disco it was in a previous life. Tea dances in the afternoons, discos at night with Wetherspoons running a bar. It can’t fail.
        But I guess the local residents will start a campaign against that!

      • WatchfulEye says:

        Well, that’s the glory of the free market-a casino would bode many positives for penarth’s economy. However, I don’t believe they’d get permission from the council for a new sign 😉

      • Ann Other says:

        Well, that’s the really, really terrible thing about free-markets, isn’t it? They
        provide people with what they WANT not what other, superior, people think they NEED. People, even old age pensioners who you obviously regard as stupid and simple, don’t always want the worst, despite what their superiors, one of whom you obviously are,, believe!

  7. snoggerdog says:

    the grangetown mohamedans could apply to turn it into a mosque & then nag mr doughty to get them a free shuttle bus from penarth town railway station. just a thought.

  8. Chris David says:

    Its pointless commenting anymore, Hazel’s arrogant and incompetent. Same goes for VoG who gave them our money without tying them into a full reporting and accountability. HLF are covering their tracks and should be take to task. Name one positive position or one way to rest this for these people and get professionals running it.

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