The Old Court-One Year On
- Meeting of Culture and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel - expired May 2019, Tuesday, 19th February, 2019 6.30 pm (Item 167.)
To receive a verbal update.
Martin Deny, Director The Old Court, attended the meeting to provide an update on the Old Court Windsor as it had been a year since the service level agreement had been agreed.
The Panel were informed that The Old Court was an historical building in Windsor that was opened as a performing art space in March 2018. The aim was to create a programme that was:
· Well reputed of high quality.
· Allow people of all ages from across the community access to inspiring, quality Arts programmes and practitioners.
· Inspired by and builds upon the unique history of The Old Court via meaningful arts participation for all ages.
· Include a wide range of creative arts including music, dance, photography, cinematography, theatre craft, design, literature etc.
· Make TOC Arts Centre the recognised community arts HUB in Windsor, Slough, Maidenhead and the wider area.
· Based upon lasting partnerships and relationships across the community that make the community more cohesive and bring about positive change.
· Utilising the facility and staff broad range of skills set to further develop.
The Panel were informed that 6 months after opening an external SWOT analysis was undertaken to identify strengths and opportunities as well as areas to develop to realise their education ambitions.
Part of the SWOT analysis informed that there had not been a cinema in Windsor for 35 years and so a partnership was undertaken with ND Cinema Ltd and Windsor and Eton Brewery. This provided a cinema and bar who both paid 20% of gross takings to support The Old Court community interest company. Other achievements in 2018 were:
· Refurbished building to a high standard, providing an Arts Centre which could serve the community professionally and to a high standard of performance of all kinds.
· 100 live events.
· Work with Armed Forces veterans and with the Homeless.
· Unique experiences such as Living Advent Calendar and Snowman with live orchestra.
Between March 2018 to February 2019 there had been 33640 attendees, a range of health and wellbeing classes with 17 classes per week and 1305 attendees per month. The facilities could also be hired with 24 community hires, 100 events marketed by the venue and 6 corporate hires.
The Panel were informed that for 2019 here were plans to increase the audience by better presentation of events, better marketing, developing its brochure and better use of social media. There would also be further development of its community and education programme and live cinema screenings such as the Royal Opera House.
Looking ahead the Panel were informed that there would be continued development of its school education plan and school engagement. There would also be work to target senior citizens as potential audiences and volunteers. The Panel were also shown a list of 19 existing community organisations that they had working relationships with. There was a list of community programme ideas across all ages to help focus on youth, young and older adults. The future strategy included:
· Evening activity for young adults.
· Skill development and learning opportunity for all ages.
· Daytime / socialising opportunity for elderly.
· Activity pertinent to venue and local events and history.
· Activity which cross fertilises other parts of the programme e.g. volunteer training.
· Delivery through partnerships to reduce strain on staff.
The Panel were shown projected targets for the next two years for children, community projects and training.
Cllr Stretton asked how many staff the Old Court had and was informed that there were three in the office and a part time technical site manager. There was also a box office employee per show and that the cinema and brewery provided their own staff. With regards to volunteers these were currently used on a ad hoc basis for specific events.
Cllr E Wilson reported that over two years ago there had been the possibility that the centre would close, now they had been shown a comprehensive list of events. Residents had reported that they were elated about the cinema. Cllr Wilson asked about funding from the council and was informed that the annual grant was fundamental to the existence of the building. Grants remained crucial as they could not operate on income alone. The Council had invested about £500k with the £70k service level agreement. Cllr Wilson recommended that the Panel request that Cabinet continue to support The Old Court and that events in The Old Court and Norden’s Farm be advertised in Around the Royal Borough.
Cllr S Rayner, as Lead Member, reported that she had been delighted with the work Martin Deny and his team had done. The Council’s Capital investment had made a huge difference and there was continued support from grants.
The Panel noted the annual update.