To receive the report of the Planning & Economy Manager
The decision of Community and Resources Committee on 7 September to approve the recommendations set out in the covering report had been called in by the Chair of Internal Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The Chair explained that he had called in the decision of the Community & Resources Committee because, whilst acknowledging that funding for the first year had been budgeted for, as confirmed by the interim S151 Officer, he had concerns where the money will come from to fund the subsequent 4 years. The Chair added that the Community & Resources Committee had not discussed how the funding would be paid for.
The Planning & Economy Manager told the Committee that the Service and Funding Agreement formed part of the documentation supporting the recommendation. The Agreement contained a clause stating that Torridge District Council undertook to pay the Burton Art Gallery for 5 years, subject to overriding budgetary constraints.
As Ward Member, Councillor McGeough spoke strongly in favour of renewing the agreement. He added that Officers were tasked with deciding where the funding would come from and they would advise Members of the options.
Members discussed, putting following observations as follows:
· The Community & Resources Committee had given the proposal unanimous support
· The Burton Art Gallery provided an excellent service
· The loss of the Burton Art Gallery would have a negative impact on the economy
· The financial analysis in the original report had been comprehensive and the recommendation was that the contribution should be made
· Torridge owns the building and collections
· The amount to be paid going forward was less than in previous years
· The funding is discretionary and the ability to remain agile and flexible must be retained to be able to respond to changing priorities. An annual review was proposed.
· The funding provided by TDC opens up other sources of funding – match funding.
· Quarterly business reports are provided by the Burton Art Gallery and published in the Members’ Bulletin .
· The deeds do not allow an entrance fee to be charged.
· The Burton Art Gallery should look at enhancing the outreach and education programmes. Specific feedback relating to more rural wards will be taken back to the responsible person at the Burton Art Gallery.
· External Overview & Scrutiny Committee scrutinise the Burton Art Gallery annually
· Donations bring with them public engagement. More weight should be placed on this type of funding as the Burton Art Gallery did seem to rely heavily on grant funding, which was not always a given.
Judith Gentry of the Burton Art Gallery refuted the reference to the charity being self-sustaining at the end of the first 5 years. This had never been the intention. The Planning & Economy Manager reported that early negotiations had looked at true costs and the charitable trust was set up. For purposes of NPO status and other funding a longer-term agreement was better financially for both the Burton Art Gallery and the Council.
Covid-19 had impacted on the outreach programme, particularly stunting the new initiative of getting into care homes.
Ms Gentry was asked to explain some of the downward shifts within the financial performance, such as the shop, café and workshops. The cafe operates as a concession with a renewable agreement and a fixed rental agreement. Donations and legacies were showing a downward shift which was due to the charity having received a legacy when it was established. Donations are moving downwards nationally.
The Senior Solicitor told the meeting that she had be involved in the transfer of the trust and preparing the legal documents. She had approached this with a view to protecting Torridge District Council and clauses had been inserted to this end. However, she appreciated the need the longer-term security for the charity going forward which helped them tap into other funding which Torridge, as a Council, was unable to access.
It was agreed that the Committee accorded with the Community & Resources’ decision.
Ms Gentry thanked the Committee and the Chair for the opportunity to address the meeting.