Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 16th June 2020 at 7pm via video conferencing
Present: Cllr Louise Parkin (Chairman), Cllrs Peter Clayton, Dawn Carey, Andy Hodge, Phil Harvey, Andy Brewer, Nick Tolley, Mike Murphy, Colette Winfield, Mike Facey (Ex-officio) with Sam Winter (Town Clerk), Beccy Armory (Business Development Officer) and Sally Jones (RFO) in attendance.
1 member of the public and 1 member of the press were present
Cllrs Nick Tolley, Dawn Carey and Mike Murphy were absent
21/20/PMC Declarations of Interest in items on this agenda & dispensations granted
22/20/PMC Approval of Minutes
The minutes of the Princess Management
Committee meeting held on 10th February 2020 & the extraordinary meeting held 20th March 2020.
The minutes of 10th February were approved as a correct record, subject to correcting an administrative error.
The minutes of 20th March were approved as a correct record.
(The Chairman had requested that clarity was given to the reason why the Princess had closed, but retracted the request on review of the minute following the meeting).
23/20/PMC Action List
The Action List was noted as completed
24/20/PMC To receive the report of the Business Development Officer
The meeting received a full report that included: the downturn in the financial position of the Princess in light of COVID 19 and the continuation of fixed costs. The Princess is unable to maximise government support from the expanded retail discount, the subsequent grant or the Job Retention Scheme due to its legal structure. Grant funding from the Arts Council’s emergency National Lottery fund allowed the Princess to cover income losses and 4 projects, leaving a reduced shortfall of £16243 until the end of the financial year. Venues like the Princess Theatre are important to the Arts Council because it recognises that Sedgemoor is in the bottom 1/3 in the country for attendance at cultural events. The BDO confirmed she is working to access additional funding.
Any return to business will require compliance with further Health & Safety COVID Secure regulations, which are being worked on. Staff have maintained contact with volunteers, artists, community groups and supporters
The new website is operational with administrative and experience improvements, including the facility to showcase digital exhibitions. Website www.theprincesstheatre.co.uk A new ticketing contract is in place that will focus on customer service, meaning the box office will be more professional, intuitive and easier to navigate for volunteers and customers. The BDO notified the meeting that the Princess was not actively selling tickets at this point in time due the lack of clarity when it will reopen post COVID & refurbishment, although approx. 80% of ticket sales had been retained thanks to the generosity of supporters.
Motions for note/resolution
25/20/PMC To approve the implementation of a membership system.
The meeting heard that a memberships scheme at the price of £30, initially for 2 years to accommodate the current uncertainty, which would give the customer a number of exclusive benefits, such as reduced ticket rates on some productions, meet the star and invites to private views. It was clarified that this offer would be distinct from the discount already provided to Friends and is a standard system operated in other venues. A conservative minimum membership of 200 was initially anticipated. The Arts Council have funded 7, 2-year memberships to be given away to start the process.
It was resolved to approve implementation of the membership scheme
26/20/PMC To give initial consideration the restrictions of the existing legal structure in relation to accessing funding.
The meeting heard that funding schemes open to local authority arts and culture functions are scarce. Had the Princess been a charity or CIO (charitable incorporated organisation) more immediate funding would have been open to it during the recent health crisis. The current local authority structure prevented access to the expanded retail discount, the subsequent grant as well as the option to furlough staff. The meeting briefly explored some concerns with alternative legal structures and it was agreed that officers would seek legal advice and report back to the Committee on potential options.
27/20/PMC To give initial consideration to the future provision of the café.
The meeting heard that there has been no date set for when the hospitality industry can reopen and many of the volunteers will be among the last to be fully released from isolation, which presents difficulties with staffing the facility. It was noted that it would not be viable to staff the café with its current income profit level at £310 pcm, but the café and kitchen is an excellent asset with potential for better use.
The meeting explored the possible options for retaining the facility in-house or letting it and agreed that the Business Development Officer will research options and report to the committee for consideration.
28/20/PMC To receive an update on the CIM funded refurbishment works.
A confidential report was received detailing the tender submissions in response to the procurement process. All contractors who submitted an EOI and met the H&S and financial criteria received tender papers. The meeting approved the town clerk’s agreement given to the Project Coordinator to proceed with negotiations only, based on the two identified companies that can be brought within budget and on the decisions of the refurbishment sub-committee, as minuted. The meeting noted that these negotiations have been hampered by COVID 19 and the Committee is therefore not yet in a position to fully consider the returns or award a contract..
The meeting heard that the project was predicted to have taken 12 weeks, but it is reasonable to assume that this will be extended due to problems with supply chains and social distancing measures.
The Committee agreed it was keen to avoid loss of income by bringing forward the works to coincide with the current period of closure and officers should take steps to achieve this where possible.
It was proposed by Cllr Clayton, seconded by Cllr Harvey and resolved that the sum of £4476 saved from the changes to the alarm systems is put toward the expenditure on new fire safety works.
29/20/PMC To receive the budget income and expenditure reports for March 2020
The RFO reported that the income from the PV cells was lower, but expected to return to usual value on repair of a broken cell that is covered by insurance.
The income and expenditure reports were received.
30/20/PMC Date of Next meeting
It was noted that the next meeting of this committee will be held on Tuesday 11th August 2020 at 7pm
The Chairman closed the meeting 19:59