Future governance arrangements at three cultural attractions to be discussed by executive board

Proposed changes to the current governance arrangements at three city cultural venues are to be discussed by senior councillors next week.

As part of a report submitted to Leeds City Council’s executive board on 11 February 2015, members will have the opportunity to consider a number of recommendations detailing how the Leeds Grand Theatre, the City Varieties and Hyde Park Picture House, could be managed in the future. Currently all three venues form part of Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House LTD (LGTOH), which is a company wholly owned by the council.

The report follows a decision by the executive board in July 2014 to approve the council considering a range of potential governance options at LGTOH. The aim of this review was to ensure that not only was the best possible structure in place to build on the many positives achieved working closely with the council, but also crucially provide LGTOH with the necessary empowerment, freedom and autonomy required to move the attractions to the next level. Options which were investigated included; retaining the current arrangements; direct management by specialist LCC staff; moving to an independent trust and/or procuring a commercial operator.

Having taken the findings of the review and an investigation by the council’s Sustainable Economy and Culture scrutiny board into account, recommendations will now be presented to the executive board in order for LGTOH to make the most of its significant cultural offer whilst maintaining its financial sustainability and improving its flexibility to meet the varied challenges and opportunities that lay ahead in the future.

Included in the recommendations are:

• The LGTOH Board is restructured to become a fully independent charitable trust.

• Council representation on the new trust is reduced.

• The LGTOH moves immediately to appoint an interim full-time chief executive to lead the process of change and development that will flow from the changes to governance.

A full copy of the report can be viewed at: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s127394/Grand%20Theatre%20Cover%20Report%20V2%20020215.pdf

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:

"We are extremely fortunate to have a fantastic cultural offer in Leeds, and the council is determined that the three wonderful venues that form part of LGTOH remain in the public sector and have the best possible structure in place to build on their already strong base and meet with real confidence, the variety of challenges that lay ahead.

"Following a detailed review by the council which looked at the potential governance options, a report has being brought forward to the executive board detailing a number of recommendations. These include proposals that the LGTOH board be restructured to become an independent charitable trust and the immediate appointment of an interim full-time chief executive to lead on this change.

"While there is no doubt that this new approach will, if given the go-ahead, offer a change in how the company is managed, what will not alter in any shape or form is the council’s continuing commitment to both support and protect them in the future. We believe these recommendations in the executive board paper offer this security and also an opportunity for these undoubted jewels in our city to really prosper and move to a new level of success."

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk