The York Council is expected next week to confirm an additional grant of £1/2 million to the Theatre Royal.
The plan – which will be classified as “capital expenditure” and will increase the Councils already large capital debt – was revealed during the recent budget debate.
The report to the decision meeting which take place on 16th March is unsatisfactory in several respects. It fails to include essential information about the Theatres financial performance.
As a minimum the 2018/19 outturn, the 2019/20 and the (draft) 2020/21 budget should be made public. At the moment taxpayers have no idea whether the Theatre is profitable or not (probably not!).
There is no detail of the Theatres medium term business plans. There is no comment from the York Councillors (Crawshaw, Daubeney, Mason) who are supposed to look after the Council and residents’ financial interests on the Theatre Board
In 2015 the Council decided to sell the Theatre Royal building to the York Conservation Trust for £1. The Trust is a benign body which agree to make a major investment in essential repairs. The Council said that it planned to stop its annual support grant to the Theatre but instead agreed to make a contribution of £770,000 towards a £4.1 million restoration project. This project was intended to make the Theatre self-supporting. The Council’s responsible executive member told the York Press in February 2016 “This funding agreement will strengthen York Theatre Royal’s sustainability for the future”
The refurbishment overran its timescale and the Theatre was effectively closed for nearly a year.
The most worrying aspect of the new deal is the decision to borrow money to fund it. The Council report says that the £500,000 borrowing will cost taxpayers “£35,000 a year” in interest charges and principal repayments. Only if the Council borrows the money over a 20 year term. Some of the proposed expenditure (IT, box office software) will be on items with an expected lifetime of less than 7 years. Borrowing money over a period longer than the life of an asset would be financial madness.
A more realistic borrowing time-frame would be 10 years, meaning taxpayers would be committed to ongoing payments of around £65,000 a year.
NB The Council aggregates all its borrowing requirements and currently enjoys interest payments on its borrowings of less than 5%
Then there is the question of whether more investment will be sought in 4 years time?
The Council should not agree the expenditure without publishing a lot more information about the financial trajectory for the Theatre.
In the event of it ceasing trading, most of the taxpayer investment would be unrecoverable.
The demise of the Rose Theatre last year has already left the York taxpayer with a £40,000 plus bill.
It could be viewed by the Council as a timely warning about the need for prudent and well informed decisions.
A interesting programme of events has been prepared by the York Civic Trust. Mostly aimed at members, there are also some which could attract a wider audience.
Membership of the York Civic Trust is only £30 (click)
Sheldon Lecture: George Pace (10 March)
Mansion House Lunch (31 March)
St. Mary’s Abbey Figure of Christ (9 April)
Coffee Morning Social (18 April)
York Racecourse: Forever Changing (22 April)
31 St. Saviourgate (4 May)
The Peoples of York, Lecture 1 (21 May)
A Visit to the Borthwick Institute (27 May)
York’s Defences: The City Walls (9 June)
The Retreat (15 June)
Schools Public Speaking Competition (24 June)
Thomas Horsley, Gunmaker of York (1 July)
Millthorpe School (25 July)
Annual Lunch and Social (1 August)
Wentworth Woodhouse (5 August)
Likely to be of particular interest is an open series of lectures commencing in May which traces the influence that settlers and immigrants have had on the City.
The organisers say that in 2021 they will bring the story up to date. Given the present Home Secretary’s policies that may turn out to be a very short lecture.
The Peoples of York, Lecture 1: Arrivals
This is the first in a landmark series of six talks. The lectures will explore how York was shaped by settlers from Europe and beyond from the earliest times. The stories of individuals and the history of familiar places will come to the fore in six enlightening and engaging talks.
Organised by YCT, and supported by York Museum Trust, these fascinating sessions will be open to everyone. The series will launch with an insight into Roman and Anglian arrivals in York. In the autumn of 2020, the stories of medieval settlers will come to the fore. In 2021, we will hear how the city was shaped by the turbulence of 19th and 20th century migrations across Europe, and bring York’s story up to the present day.
Venue: Tempest Anderson Hall, Yorkshire Museum
Ticket cost: FREE
Ticket purchase: https://peoples_of_york_lecture1.eventbrite.co.uk
The organisers of the York Music Festival scheduled to take place on the York Sports Club Fields on the weekend of 19th – 21st June have applied for a premises licence.
It will be considered by the York Council at a meeting being held on 27th February.
Live Nation Music say that the event, which features artists like Madness, Westlife and Lionel Richie may attract as many as 20,000 customers.
They application includes details of the event management plan and can be viewed on the Councils web site by clicking here
The Councils public protection department are recommending several conditions aimed at reducing the risk of noise nuisance click
They say, “the agreed Noise Management Plan must contain a requirement that the Music Noise Level expressed as an LAeq shall not exceed 65dB(A) over a 15 minute period as measured at the nearest noise sensitive premises”.
Apart from noise, most concerns are likely to relate to traffic issues and the ability of the police and organisers to control the behaviour of those attending.
One objector asked for “no concluding fireworks display” in deference to the sensitivities of his dog!
Wednesday February 19th
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Exclusive book launch for the latest in Hilary Robinson’s wonderful series, featuring Charlie Tanner and his dog Jasper and their journey to explore established facts with belly laugh ideas about life as a Viking.
Meet the author and Viking Harold Bluetooth, go to Viking Art School with a book illustrator, take part in a Viking quiz and get your books signed!+
19th February 2020
@ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Join Kate Spicer and Wolfy as she discusses her life-affirming memoir about the myth of modern womanhood and the joy in the relationship between human and canine.
Kate is a middle-aged woman trying to bring some order in her messy life. When she adopts a lurcher called Wolfy, the shabby rescue dog saves her from herself and restores peace and love to her human relationships. Redeemed, life is looking up. But then the dog disappears. Will she save him – and can she save herself from slipping back into her worst habits?
As she trudges endlessly calling his name in the hopeless hope she may find him, she runs into other people’s landscapes and lives, finding allies amongst not just the army of dog walkers that come out to help her but psychics, newsreaders, celebrities, homeless people and one mysterious midnight jogger.
Trying to find her dog tests her relationship, and her sanity, to their limits – and gets her thinking about life, and why things have turned out as they have for her. A brilliant, life-affirming memoir, which reaches into both life’s darkest and most uplifting places, critics and readers alike agree that Lost Dog is a book like no other about the myth of modern womanhood, the depths we can fall to and the enduring mystery and joy in the relationship between human and canine.
Explore York in partnership with Fox Lane Books