'Show us value for money': Conservative leader calls for list of Rose Theatre services to justify £500,000 Kingston Council funding

Conservative leader Howard Jones wants a list of all the services provided by the Rose Theatre in return for the annual £500,000 taxpayer funding

Conservative leader Howard Jones wants a list of all the services provided by the Rose Theatre in return for the annual £500,000 taxpayer funding

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy editor

The leader of Kingston Conservatives has called for a detailed list of all services provided by the Rose Theatre in return for Kingston Council’s annual £500,000 funding.

Howard Jones made the request in response to the High Street venue posting a £204,000 loss in its latest accounts for 2012/13.

The theatre receives half a million pounds of taxpayer money each year, plus an additional £380,000 from Kingston University.

Coun Jones said he had now asked Kingston Council officers to provide a breakdown of each payment made to the theatre by the council annually, in order to see what exactly residents are getting for their money.

He said: “I have asked officers to prepare me a list of payments the council makes to the theatre.

“We can see the overall lot but there should be a list of what we are getting for our money.

“If we have a service level agreement we should be able to see if we’re getting value for money in terms of what we get for our half a million quid.”

A five year agreement between the council and the Rose will see the theatre continue to receive £500,000 a year until 2016.

Asked whether that agreement would be renewed if the Conservatives were in power by then, Coun Jones said: “Depending on where we were at that particular time, if it came to the crunch and the council didn’t have any money then we wouldn’t be able to give any.

“I think the council needs to work out its priorities and personally I think there are more important priorities than the theatre.

“But that’s not to say that we shouldn’t sit down with them and figure out how it can survive.”

What do you think? Leave your comments below or email letters@surreycomet.co.uk

Comments (2)

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9:15am Fri 17 Jan 14

Bex456 says...

The inherent problem with attempting to assess the ‘value for money’ of any creative institution is that most of the benefits cannot be measured in pounds and pence. Creating ‘Theatre’ is an expensive business, and it is important to remember that its successes cannot be measured in purely financial terms.

For example, the Rose supports our youth. Hundreds of young people take part in the Rose’s weekly groups, and the Rose is home to the International Youth Arts Festival which in 2012 brought 9000 participants and 30,000 attendees to Kingston. Also, 48.6% of the audience surveyed said IYAF increased their dwell time in Kingston. This festival simply would not exist if the Rose had not been built.

The Rose has supported the growth of my career in theatre from my early days in the youth theatre and other groups delivered by the excellent ‘Learning and Participation’ department. Their support helped me gain a place on a Kingston University MA course taught in the Rose Studio. As an adult volunteer on youth theatre productions I have learnt how a large-scale professional venue produces a piece of theatre. This experience enabled the International Youth Arts Festival to give me my first professional work as a Theatre Practitioner – an essential step on a notoriously difficult career path.

The Rose creates world class theatre as well as welcoming a diverse range of excellent touring companies, which in my opinion provide excellent value for money. The café is always a pleasant place to while away a few hours, and a welcome respite from the flurry of shops. Without the Rose, Kingston would run the risk of becoming a place with only consumerism at its heart.

However, if we are going to insist on reducing this conversation to purely financial terms, I would be very surprised if the Rose did not have a significant positive impact on the income of local businesses. Restaurants and shops will be reaping the benefits of increased numbers of people visiting Kingston, and the council directly benefits from the car park income. As a whole the theatre industry generates £2 for every £1 spent (figures from the ‘Theatre Works, Don’t Wreck It’ Equity campaign).

Finally, I would suggest that one of the reasons the Rose is not getting more ‘bums-on-seats’ is the generally unfair and negative press reports that have consistently appeared over several years, although this latest one is more balanced. I appreciate that not everyone values the arts, but please, while the issue of the Rose’s funding is debated, can we remember to take account of all the lives that have been improved, the audiences that have been entertained and enriched, and the obvious benefits of having a world class theatre on our doorstep.
The inherent problem with attempting to assess the ‘value for money’ of any creative institution is that most of the benefits cannot be measured in pounds and pence. Creating ‘Theatre’ is an expensive business, and it is important to remember that its successes cannot be measured in purely financial terms. For example, the Rose supports our youth. Hundreds of young people take part in the Rose’s weekly groups, and the Rose is home to the International Youth Arts Festival which in 2012 brought 9000 participants and 30,000 attendees to Kingston. Also, 48.6% of the audience surveyed said IYAF increased their dwell time in Kingston. This festival simply would not exist if the Rose had not been built. The Rose has supported the growth of my career in theatre from my early days in the youth theatre and other groups delivered by the excellent ‘Learning and Participation’ department. Their support helped me gain a place on a Kingston University MA course taught in the Rose Studio. As an adult volunteer on youth theatre productions I have learnt how a large-scale professional venue produces a piece of theatre. This experience enabled the International Youth Arts Festival to give me my first professional work as a Theatre Practitioner – an essential step on a notoriously difficult career path. The Rose creates world class theatre as well as welcoming a diverse range of excellent touring companies, which in my opinion provide excellent value for money. The café is always a pleasant place to while away a few hours, and a welcome respite from the flurry of shops. Without the Rose, Kingston would run the risk of becoming a place with only consumerism at its heart. However, if we are going to insist on reducing this conversation to purely financial terms, I would be very surprised if the Rose did not have a significant positive impact on the income of local businesses. Restaurants and shops will be reaping the benefits of increased numbers of people visiting Kingston, and the council directly benefits from the car park income. As a whole the theatre industry generates £2 for every £1 spent (figures from the ‘Theatre Works, Don’t Wreck It’ Equity campaign). Finally, I would suggest that one of the reasons the Rose is not getting more ‘bums-on-seats’ is the generally unfair and negative press reports that have consistently appeared over several years, although this latest one is more balanced. I appreciate that not everyone values the arts, but please, while the issue of the Rose’s funding is debated, can we remember to take account of all the lives that have been improved, the audiences that have been entertained and enriched, and the obvious benefits of having a world class theatre on our doorstep. Bex456
  • Score: 1

7:17pm Fri 17 Jan 14

MzzComet says...

Kingston Council wastes its money on a lot of things but the Rose Theatre isn't one of those. I too think the council needs to sort out it's priorities, but please leave the Rose Theatre alone.
Kingston Council wastes its money on a lot of things but the Rose Theatre isn't one of those. I too think the council needs to sort out it's priorities, but please leave the Rose Theatre alone. MzzComet
  • Score: -7

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