Agenda item

Old Town Hall


Report was presented by Diane Southam who thought Members might welcome the report as an alternative to the refurbishment report identified in the forward plan as it was too soon to bring this report forward.

This paper provides members with an update on the program between 22-23 and performance.

She stated, I won't take members time by reading it out to you in detail, but Section 2.3 identifies that we're currently looking at and working towards objectives that look to maximize income, therefore reducing the subsidy that's currently going into the old town hall. This includes utilizing technology to improve the customer experience and doing that in an inclusive and accessible way and ensuring greater use of the venue in terms of the High Street vision and the old town vision. There is an additional objective to conclude the full service and building review and we will bring that report back to you in due course.

Section three sets out the performance in terms of ticket sales over recent years, and members will note that from 2021 to 2022 to 2023 to date, which is around the christmas period, maybe the first week in January, there was a 60 percent increase on ticket sales year on year, 2187, increase on ticket numbers, which is encouraging. Since that point there is at least a further 800 ticket sales to add to that figure. The second part of that table in 3.1 identifies where those ticket sales are in terms of the activity within the Old Town hall and  you will see the majority is clearly still within the theatre facility.

The table identified how we're targeting clients and the approach we're taking with that in terms of the types of offer.

Diane drew Members attention to 4.2 that we've got a 105% increase since the 1st of January in terms of our mailing list, which is really encouraging and that does continue to increase.

We are also used to utilizing a number of social media platforms and 4.3 identifies the numbers and the levels of increase that we've seen in that activity as well over that period. We have a new website that's been developed as well and that has had 187% increase in terms of session duration and usage of that website and we will continue to enhance the use of the website. Coupled with that there is a supplement to the online presence, with a ‘What’s On’ guide.

Copies of that are available for members to have. If you would like that, I can arrange for us to be to, to be delivered.

Section 5 just sets out the program of activity to date and the proposals for future, just to note though we did start the programme earlier in January than it has traditionally happened, and we can see that the ticket sales that happened after January that I just mentioned, the additional 800 tickets.

Diane was happy to take questions from members.

Councillor Adeleke thanked her for her presentation and asked the following, we recently had a very successful story on the old town. I hope it is not going to be just a one hit wonder and that you do plan to have more faith. Now I've spoken to a number of businesses around there and they are fully aware of what happened. What they did, sort of make some presentation that It looks as if the Council is concentrating more on those town and there is no interaction or not sufficient that interaction with other businesses. He asked if that was  something you can perhaps expand on?

Diane Southam replied, we will very much be working with local businesses and engaging with them in terms of how we can use the town hall as part of that wider offer of the old the town in its entirety and how we can look at events or business events and become very much part of that old town community.

Cllr Adeleke referred to 7.1 you put together a list of ideas for the future, which I think they are quite brilliant. When are you actually thinking of starting the implementation of some of these brilliant ideas?

Diane Southam said that they very much take that on board and I would just say that these are things that aren’t definitely going to happen, They are Ideas of what we could explore and put forward to Members to discuss and with Councillor Banks to discuss in terms of whether they are things we want consider or not. These are just options that are possible in that type of venue. So I very much take the point about the business interaction and wouldn't want to be seen to be doing anything in detail but we could work together with businesses as we develop proposals.

Cllr Wyatt-Lowe I'm looking at 3.1 which regards to activity, you detail the ticket sales but I can't really see any indication of occupancy rates. So for example you talked about the marketing opportunities, so how much spare capacity have we got to exploit and improve the ticket sales? I understanding perhaps you might not have that information to hand right now?

She said it's a very good point and will include the occupancy levels and the income generations part of the future plans, and yes, you're right, some of the proposals and developments will be constrained by the size of the building and the size of the theatre and the number of seats, what we'll be considering is maximizing the use of the space, the whole space. There's a combination of have we got the theatre and have we got program events fully maximized in terms of use of the theatre or other events and shows that we could put on some maximize the number of days the theatre is in use for that type of activity, But are we making best use of the downstairs area? Or is there more we could do? There is something more we could do with the bar and cafe area and the exhibition area. Its a combination of things, It's around available days for each of those areas, but maximizing the use of each of those areas for different things as well.

Cllr Adeleke asked, roughly, when will you be implementing these ideas?


Diane Southam said that the implementation would be a little bit later on. Some will be quicker wins than others, But in terms of the review and the further exploration and the more detailed consideration of some of those ideas, I'll be commencing work with the team on that over the course of the next month.


Councillor Adeleke asked a supplementary question, Wil you be coming back to the committee if you hit any jackpot.

Diane Southam replied, yes that would be an idea to work with Cllr Banks and Bring it back to the committee.


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