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Future of Stamford Arts Centre and Bourne Corn Exchange under review by South Kesteven District Council

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The future running of Stamford Arts Centre and Bourne Corn Exchange has been called into question following a review of their costs.

South Kesteven District Council appointed the independent Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy (SLC) to look at its provision of arts, culture and events through the two hubs, as well as at Grantham’s Guildhall.

The council spent more than £1.7m on arts and cultural services in the 2019/20 financial year, about 11 per cent of its total net services costs.

Stamford Arts Centre has just been renovated - now it is under review
Stamford Arts Centre has just been renovated - now it is under review

SLC highlighted that “Within the programme, only the Stamford Arts Centre cinema makes a significant financial contribution - approximately £90,000 per annum. Other programmes run near to breaking even or at a deficit.

"The general performance programmes at Stamford Arts Centre and at Grantham require a combined subsidy of about £85,000 per annum.”

The review by SLC, which the council says cost less than £10,000, recommends a ‘staffing restructure’, reviewing arts centre opening hours, and passing responsibility for arts, culture and events services to an external trust with the ability to attract charitable funding.

Bourne Corn Exchange
Bourne Corn Exchange

It also suggests the council develops a management plan for its arts centre venues so it can make an informed decision on whether to retain the leases for the buildings.

Cabinet member for arts and culture, Coun Rosemary Trollope-Bellew (Con - Casewick), said: “South Kesteven District Council is planning ahead in order to maintain and develop a vibrant arts and culture programme for residents.

“Although arts, culture and festivals are not statutory services that the council has to provide, it has a long history of supporting them in recognition of the contribution they make to the social wellbeing of the district. The aim is for that to continue.

“Against a background of increasing pressure on public finances and further financial challenges to come, this review has identified potential savings and new ways of operating.

Rosemary Trollope-Bellew (Con - Casewick)
Rosemary Trollope-Bellew (Con - Casewick)

“Our three arts venues – Grantham Guildhall, Stamford Arts Centre and Bourne Corn Exchange – currently operate independently of each other and the council, and one of the options being considered is centralising services such as box offices, marketing and administration.

“Our delivery of arts and culture services hasn’t changed for many years and by making adjustments we can reduce the level of subsidy that is required.”

The external review will be considered at meetings of the council’s culture and visitor economy overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday, which is closed to members of the public and press, and September 8 after which members will make a recommendation for the cabinet to consider on September 14.

The Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham
The Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham

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