The Committee is requested to receive the annual report from Chichester Festival Theatre and assess performance in line with the monitoring framework.
Mr Daniel Evans, Artistic Director for CFT and Ms Dale Rooks, Director of Learning for CFT introduced themselves. Mrs Peyman was also present.
Mrs Peyman introduced the annual monitoring report. She drew attention to section 4.1 of the report, in particular the table highlighting the activities and measures for the period April 2017 – March 2018.
Mr Evans then explained that CFT are proud of their partnership with the council and the association helps provide leverage for Arts Council funding as CFT is able to demonstrate economic and social impact in the local community. He confirmed that 2017/18 had been a record year with around 230,000 tickets sold, 83% capacity and seven national awards. He explained that people from 29 different countries had seen Fiddler on the Roof. He confirmed that 16-25 year old prologue tickets had been reduced to £5 which had resulted in a 133% rise in take up. He outlined the work of LEAP led by Ms Rooks which provided 3,200 sessions to over 60,000 participants. Mr Evans explained that the work with local schools had extended to over 6000 students with CFT offering relaxed performances aimed at those with autism. He confirmed that CFT had live streamed productions to the children’s wards at St Richards and Worthing hospitals and hoped to continue to develop this over the next year. He explained that CFT operates a buddy scheme to provide a theatre companion for those not wanting to visit alone. He confirmed that CFT were the only theatre in the UK to receive an Arts Award positive practice award for a poetry project in partnership with The Chichester Centre (Graylingwell). He added that the year had also seen a performance for Her Majesty the Queen and the celebration of the Freedom of the City for astronaut Tim Peake.
Mr Evans then outlined the main challenges faced by CFT. He explained that there have been difficulties finding space to accommodate the number and diverse range of workshops, community events, rehearsals and performances the theatre offers. As a result CFT has started hiring space from Chichester City Council and also working with Chichester Rugby Club to provide staff parking. Mr Evans confirmed that the other main challenge continued to be transportation in particular the local train infrastructure and theatre parking.
Mr Evans and Ms Rooks responded to members questions as follows (answers in italics):
· Have CFT considered the route for staff walking back to the car park at the rugby club in the evening? The path is lit but the area is dark so this is something being considered. The current arrangement is that chaperones and children walk back in groups.
· Has CFT considered hiring the council’s committee rooms? No, but it is something that would be considered.
· With reference to page 29 of the agenda pack what are the seven quality principles for children and young people? The seven quality principles provided by the Arts Council are measured in a variety of ways including interviews, filming evidence and feedback. The principles are:
o Striving for excellence
o Emphasising authenticity
o Being exciting, inspiring and engaging
o Ensuring a positive child centred experience
o Actively involving children in the work and decision making
o Providing a sense of personal progression
· What provision does CFT offer for the hard of hearing? Loop hire is available. CFT have a large number of loops available but are looking to invest in additional equipment.
· Why do some productions translate onto the CFT stage better than others? Many productions are not created at CFT and require some production changes. The degree to which those changes are implemented varies based on who is running the production.
· Will CFT be hosting more music concerts? Recently 10cc performed and CFT also held a young people’s rock concert. It has also been noted that people often come to the theatre for the first time when comedians are performing.
· Will there be more live streaming of CFT performances? In addition to the children’s wards at St Richards and Worthing hospitals CFT has also live streamed to Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. Other venues are being considered.
· What is being done to encourage people in their 30’s and 40’s to visit CFT? Next season will see something aimed specifically at that age group although it cannot be announced at this stage.
· Have the Arts Council given any indication about funding given the current political climate? No indication has been made that there will be any change.
· With reference to page 71 of the agenda pack does the deferred income brought forward indicate a change in trends? It is understood that the reference is due to a specific grant programme coming to an end rather than an indicative trend but a more detailed answer will be provided after the meeting. Post meeting note: In speaking to our Finance Director, this does not reflect a negative trend. Rather, the deferred income at this stage of the year in 2017 was exceptionally high due to particularly high sales for the first Festival Theatre production of the 2017 season. We believe this was due to high-profile casting, Richard Wilson in Forty Years On – a popular play by a popular playwright (Alan Bennett), and it being the opening production of Daniel Evans first season, which he was also directing – as referenced in our report (page 17 of the agenda pack) this particular production saw the highest number of tickets ever sold in the history of CFT for a single play. Deferred income moving into Festival 2018 was more reflective of the general level of advance sales we have experienced in previous years, with the positive exception of 2017. We would be happy to answer any further questions on this matter.
· What was the reason for the purchase of 67 Broyle Road? CFT had been experiencing a challenge in housing its performers and visitors and a strategic decision was made to purchase the house to provide accommodation.
That the annual report from Chichester Festival Theatre be noted.
On behalf of the Committee Mrs Apel thanked Mr Evans, Ms Rooks and Mrs Peyman for their time.
The Committee took a short break.