Issue - meetings

Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot

Meeting: 15/02/2024 - Cabinet (Item 68)

68 Future direction of Cornerstone Arts Centre pdf icon PDF 756 KB

To consider the report of the head of development and corporate landlord. 


Cabinet considered the head of development and corporate landlord’s report on the future direction of the Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot.  Officers had considered options for the ongoing development of the service to offer the most effective and efficient operation.  The aim was to maximise community benefit and financial efficiency, thereby establishing the long-term sustainability of the centre.  The report proposed the approval of a development action plan to meet these aims. 


The report included several appendices, which investigated service provision options in detail.  These options included running the centre by an external organisation, an outsourced operator model, and retaining the operation of the centre in-house.  Cabinet noted the appendices, including those that were marked as exempt. 


The Scrutiny Committee had supported the progression of the action plan but asked Cabinet to consider the following points:

·       better and more frequent reporting on progress with the action plan;

·       funding sources should be explored as soon as possible;

·       a clear marketing and promotion review, with a review of shows and show types, and marketing to a wider catchment area;

·       exploring energy savings;

·       providing Scrutiny Committee with an update report in 12 months’ time. 


Officers had provided a response to the points raised by Scrutiny Committee; Cabinet noted these. 


The Cabinet member for community wellbeing thanked Scrutiny Committee for its suggestions.  Most were included in the action plan.  There would be more frequent reporting of progress against the action plan; subject to budgetary approval there would be more resource to fundraise; a new marketing strategy would be developed as well as more dynamic programming; and energy savings and decarbonisation of the centre were being explored.  A progress report would also be submitted to Scrutiny Committee. 


The Cabinet member confirmed that the council was committed to the Cornerstone.  It was hoped that the action plan would generate more income and make the service more sustainable.  Specialist skills were needed to fundraise, market the offering, and bring improved arts management.  Recent ticket sales had already shown an improvement. 


Cabinet welcomed the officer’s report reviewing the service and the proposed action plan, and thanked Scrutiny Committee for its suggestions.  Cabinet recognised that there were improvements the council could implement to improve the centre’s service delivery.  The adoption of the development action plan should have a positive impact on the centre’s financial viability and benefit the community.  Before the council considered longer-term options for the centre, Cabinet considered that the council should do all it could to ensure the centre was operating to its best potential in-house.  Therefore, Cabinet supported the adoption of the development action plan.  Members asked for performance progress reports at regular intervals. 




(a)       endorse the Cornerstone Development Action Plan, as set out in Appendix 6 to the head of development and corporate landlord’s report to Cabinet on 15 February 2024, to optimise operation of the in-house delivery model before any consideration is given to alternative operating models; and


(b)       acknowledge that the current implementation costs outlined within the action plan,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68