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Future running of Grantham Guildhall Arts Centre called into question after review of costs

The future running of Grantham’s Guildhall Arts Centre has been called into question following a review of its 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 Guildhall, Stamford Arts Centre and Bourne Corn Exchange.

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. SLC highlighted that cultural programmes “run near to breaking even or at a deficit”.

Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham. (43763766)
Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham. (43763766)

The review recommends a ‘staffing restructure’, reviewing opening hours, and passing responsibility for arts services to an external trust with the ability to attract charitable funding.

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.”

She added this might include centralising box offices, marketing and administration for the three arts centres.

The review will be considered at meetings of the council’s culture and visitor economy overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday (August 3) and September 8 after which members will make a recommendation for the cabinet to consider on September 14.

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