Agenda item

Worthing Theatres Contract Monitoring

To consider a report by the Director for the Economy, copy attached as item 12


The Committee had a report before it attached as item 12, this had been circulated to all Members and a copy of which is attached to a signed copy of these minutes.


This report provided JOSC with the details of the annual review of the Worthing Theatres and Museum (WTM) which was reported to the Worthing Joint Strategic Sub-Committee on 5 December 2022.

This report would assist JOSC in questioning the Director for Economy who would present the annual review.


A Member asked “In the report there is in paragraph 3.9 reference to KPI’s that you have set prior to next year's annual report. Can you say how you will measure success or failure against these performance indicators?”


Response -

Members were told yes, there was a series of KPI’s that supported the Council’s contract with Worthing Theatres and Museum.  Over the course of the year they had worked with the WTM to revise those KPI’s and set appropriate targets that were kept under review.  The KPI’s included targets for aspects that you would expect such as tickets sales; live performances; audience figures; and repeat bookings.  However, the KPI’s also included targets which reflected the Council’s aspiration for broadening the cultural offer for the benefit of the local communities. So, they also included targets for the number of free performances; public workshops; interaction with schools and local community groups and work to support local artists, makers and researchers.  In addition, the KPI’s covered the number of people engaging for the first time and participation of people with protected characteristics – as members of audiences but also among those performing at the venues. 


A Member asked “Are you happy that the annual review shows engagement consistent with Worthing’s changing and increasingly diverse communities?”


Response -

Members were told this was one of the most important aspects of the Council’s relationship with Worthing Theatres and Museum; and in line with the question, they needed to ensure that there was continuous improvement.  Whilst the Annual Review for 2021/22 highlighted some excellent work with community groups from a range of communities across Worthing, it was the current year, with the venues fully open throughout, that WTM had been able to extend the range and breadth of its programming and participation. This work included 11 shows featuring companies and performers with protected characteristics; support for 10 local community groups; 8 local partnership projects and a targeted approach to making tickets available to people who otherwise may be excluded.  By continually monitoring audience and participation data, including detailed feedback, they would be able to help WTM continue to improve.



A Member asked “What improvements can we expect to see in next year's review to reflect these diverse communities?”


Response -

Members were told that the 21 report showed a series of indicators of initiatives and performances that had been focused on inclusion and diversity. That in the future they would expect to see as well as events and exhibitions but better raw data to underpin and inform the council as a monitoring body, as to whether the trust is making inroads in terms of inclusion. It was believed however that it would be over a number of years to see if the offer from the trust showed a demonstrable improvement.


A Member asked in regards to page 5 under section 4.2 "The contract allows the Trust to retain the first £750k of any accumulated profits’ 


The return of any profits above £750k would help alleviate the budget restraints due to the reduction of funding coming from the government over the last few years. 


On page 20 of the WTM report it says:


"At the end of the financial year we were able to move £379k to designated reserves and leave a surplus of £148k. This left us with a balance of designated reserves at the year end of £1,044k and a balance of  free reserves of £293k.


I can see from your submitted report to the charities commission that the designated reserves are for specific items such as Theatre Auditorium seats £170K, New equipment £74,800,  Building access improvement £66K, Museum cases & Roof lighting £17,200 etc. 


Where in the contract did it specify that £1044k of the accumulated profits could be redesignated to reserve expenditure (for use in later years by WTM) meaning the accumulated profit remaining does not exceed £750k and therefore WBC loses sorely needed income?”


Response -

Members were told yes, when the 2021/22 Annual Review was published, the Council notified WTM that the correct figure after which the Trust can retain accumulated funds is £350k not £750k - and it was understood that this correction was made.  Despite that, the Trust’s general reserve reached £263k by the end of the 2021/22 year and remained below a level (£350k) at which the Trust could seek to retain any accumulated funds.  This general reserve is distinct and separate from the £1.04m that the Member correctly identified – this much higher figure is the designated reserve held by the Trust and could only be spent on improvements to the buildings in line with the Trust’s contractual commitments.


A Member asked “I notice the trading arm of WTM is a company solely owned by WTM (trading) and the current Directors are Andy Sparsis and Peter Cadwaller (the chair of WTM), 

A) Is this trading subsidiary under WBC jurisdiction and 

B) which venues are used by the trading company and 

C) do they pay WTM for the hire of those venues?”


Response -

Members were told no, the trading arm was not under the jurisdiction of the Borough Council; it was a trading arm of WTM that had been established to generate income through the sale of goods and services to support the parent Trust (WTM).  If the trading arm were to use a venue then yes, it would be paid for and illustrated in the Annual Accounts.


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