Agenda item

Interview with Worthing Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure

To consider a report by the Director for Digital and Resources, copy attached as item 14.


The Committee had a report before it attached as item 14, this had been circulated to all Members and a copy of which is attached to a signed copy of these minutes.


This report set out background information on the Portfolio of the Worthing Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure to enable the Committee to consider and question the Cabinet Member on issues within her portfolio and any other issues which the Cabinet Member was involved in connected with the work of the Council and the Worthing communities.


A Member asked “Regarding the Worthing Festival, how are you planning to work with existing venues, for example Worthing Theatres and museums to link with the wider festival?”


Response -

Members were told one of the hopes in starting the Arts Forum was that they could get different parts of the cultural ecosystem together.  They had seen artists and venues making connections.  They appreciated being in the same room and meeting especially in the time after covid. 


The venue operators, including Worthing Theatres and Museum, had really bought into the Festival and seen how it could provide a platform for a range of innovative and interesting events. 


In this very first year for the Festival they had tried to make it as straightforward as possible for the creative community generally to link their events and activities to the Festival and hopefully to generate that added impetus a festival can create.


They had over 70 register an expression of interest and the next stage would be to use the info gathered and share it so people could see if there were any clashes where they were planning similar events.  

Where the council hadn’t heard from venues, the Culture and Leisure team were following up with individual venues. 


A Member asked “I am proud to acknowledge that we live in a culturally diverse community. What are you doing to ensure that underprivileged ethnic groups - especially the women of these demographics have access to culture and leisure facilities?”


Response –

Members were told that WTM, as part of their suite of KPIs, collected some helpful information. The latest Worthing census data 2021 showed 1.2% Black, 3.9% Asian, WTM Diversity of Audience KPI 22/23 Q2 1% black British and 3% Asian or Asian British 


WTM also reported audience by ward in Worthing and % adjusted for population.  It varied between 14.16% and 8.46%.  This could give information to decide which communities to reach out to.  


There hadn’t been an analysis of gender and ethnicity and the way the data was collected was by person booking.  So it would need to be discussed how this might be done.  From discussions, they were confident that South Down Leisure and WTM would be open to ideas. 


SDL had not reported participation data in their quarterly meetings but this was something that they would want to understand in future. 


As part of the Worthing Festival they had engaged with the Women’s Hub, a multi-cultural women’s group and they had brought a number of ideas for events they wished to run. The Worthing Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure was looking forward to them having greater visibility in the town through this. 


They welcomed a further discussion on how they might engage more and how they could overcome any barriers reported.



A Member asked the Trustees report of Worthing Theatres and Museum to the Charities Commission says on page 19 that:


‘WBC currently provides a guarantee until 31st October 2024 that if the Local Government Pension Scheme exit debt is triggered, and WTM are unable to pay the exit debt ...that the Council will pay the remainder…’

It goes onto say:

‘We are presenting a proposal to WBC that aims to release us from this liability by entering into a pass-through arrangement between WTM and WBC and hope to have a decision by March 2023.’


It further goes on to say ‘WTM are currently in negotiations with WBC regarding an indefinite guarantee... for the duration of the Management Agreement and a pass through arrangement which will remove the exit debt risk.’


This seems that all of the risk regarding the Pension and none of the accumulated profits are being sent to WBC. 


Can we be updated on whether WBC are considering agreeing to this proposal and if so why given that £1044k of the accumulated profits have been retained?”


Response -

Members were told the JSC Worthing in December received a technical paper regarding this proposal. It was related to both SDL and WTM.  

??The underwriting of the risk by WBC meant that the tender amounts did not need to be increased to include this risk. 


As a ‘mini’ or closed pension fund the contributions are higher than if part of the council’s pot.


At this time WBC paid the difference between the percentage WTM and the council percentage contribution, so the cost is with WBC. 


So by becoming part of the larger pension pot, the percentage paid by both trusts and the additional difference saved WBC and the trusts would pay a lower percentage.


A Member asked “In ‘Our Plan’ one of the key principles is that “we are participative, putting people at the heart of decision making and services."

Can you provide the committee with any examples within the portfolio of how our communities are being put at the heart of decision making to create thriving places?”


Response -

Members were told as a new portfolio, they had put a lot of effort into meeting, listening to individuals and businesses in the culture and leisure sector. The best example was the Arts Forum. The first meeting was on June 22 where they had about 60 people from across the cultural scene.  It was there that many were saying ‘Let’s have a Worthing Festival’.  So after some thought, as they knew they didn’t have additional resources, they decided on a pilot this year.


So far they had over 70 events for the 9 days.  At the last Arts Forum the previous week, the Worthing Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure was bowled over by the engagement and energy, people developing ideas together, wanting to make Worthing a place known for the wide range of cultural opportunities.  They had a real mix of types of events and were also free/ticketed. 


They would have Northbrook College holding their end of year show in the Town Hall.  They wanted people to see the wonderful opportunities there were in the cultural sector.  


They had also engaged with some sports clubs and that would be the focus next year. There was some excellent work completed the previous summer which they would be able to use together with the current audit of sports areas and pavilions so together with the Environment and Wellbeing portfolios they could prioritise the future work. They would do this in discussion with relevant communities and sports clubs.


A Member asked “In the portfolio briefing for today's committee meeting - Section 7. Promoting Worthing and the events programme ‘there is scope to increase accessibility for people with particular needs, reduce environmental impact and prioritise opportunity for local businesses. This has been the focus of our review of the events programme.’

Have you got any examples of what has been identified to reduce environmental impact?”


Response -

Members were told that in listening to the events team, it was clear that Worthing had become a desirable place to hold events.  Organisers were coming to them without needing to coax them. They had also listened to the views of local businesses. How could their events also support local businesses to grow?  


So, the Worthing Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure started thinking about what the events do for the people and businesses in the town?  What does Fair, Green and Local look like for events? How do they make those changes? 

The events team were looking at best practice and networking with other councils to build their knowledge. They were using ‘The Green Guide’, as a marker for excellence in environmental practice and that year, all events would be assessed on their environmental impact and monitored to ensure year on year improvements. 


They introduced post event meetings. They asked them what they did and where necessary how it could be improved.  


There would need to be changes in policy and amendments to the terms and conditions of hire. Some examples were: 

  • no single use plastic
  • improved recycling facilities
  • food waste bins

They believed that this was the standard people expected and wanted, when they were at any outdoor event. 

If local businesses were involved rather than those coming from far afield, not only did it support them to grow but also reduced carbon use to travel.  


Time for Worthing was moving towards paperless promotion and event organisers could now add a free listing which could then be promoted digitally.  Time for Worthing marketing and promotional material actively sought to promote active travel, including the recent extension of the Donkey Bike scheme. 


At this time the meeting had continued for 3 hours and In accordance with the Constitution, Members were asked if they wished to continue the meeting. They consented.




The committee had no recommendations for the Worthing Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure

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