Issue - meetings

Guildford Book Festival Mandate

Meeting: 08/07/2021 - Community Executive Advisory Board (Item 30)

30 Guildford Book Festival Mandate pdf icon PDF 212 KB

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The Lead Councillor for Environment introduced the above mandate and advised that the Council was seeking to balance its need to reduce expenditure in line with the agreed Savings Strategy against its wish to continue to offer financial support to the Guildford Book Festival (GBF) to enable the organisation to maintain its viability.  Attention was drawn to the four funding options contained in the mandate and the alternative option agreed by the Executive / Management Team Liaison Group on 3 March 2021.  The EAB’s views in respect of the options were invited.


The Strategy and Communications Manager presented the mandate and outlined the related Strategy, Options, Considerations and Resources, together with the strategic Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies, Constraints and Opportunities.  The options consisted of:


a)           Do Nothing - Continue with the existing annual grant at the current level of £23,000.

b)           Do Something - Introduce a gradual phased reduction in funding of £18,000 (2021), £13,000 (2022), £8,000 (2023) and £5,000 (2024).

c)           Do More - Reduce funding to £11,500 in 2021/22 and discontinue all funding in subsequent years.

d)           Do Most - Discontinue all funding with immediate effect.

e)           Alternative Option - A future funding path of £12,000 (2021), £6,000 (2022) and £2,000 (2023).


The EAB was reminded that one of the prioritised workstreams of the agreed Savings Strategy was to identify discretionary services savings of £2million.  This included delivering savings approaching £1million in respect of culture and heritage services.


Mr Andrew Hodges, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of GBF, was a registered speaker at the meeting and spoke in support of the Festival and provided some historic information regarding the levels of financial support which GBF had received from the Borough Council.  In conclusion, Mr Hodges advised that GBF appreciated the grant from the Council and requested that, in the event that the grant was reduced, the reduction was not severe and that there was no decision to phase out the grant entirely.


Some of the EAB’s questions were directed to Mr Hodges owing to his background knowledge of GBF and he responded in the following terms:


·             GBF had anticipated a reduction in Council grant in 2021.  A deficit in the region of £11,000 had occurred in 2020/21 owing to constraints associated with Covid-19 and related factors.  The Festival required working capital of approximately £30,000 as expenditure was incurred early in the planning process to fund publicity and organisational costs whilst revenue was received later through ticket sales.  Although GBF could continue in 2021 on the basis of the receipt of a Council grant of £18,000, there was doubt regarding its financial viability the following year.  Whilst sponsorship could assist with filling funding gaps, it could be challenging to obtain and be subject to conditions.  Low level sponsorship, for example from publisher sponsors, had been received in respect of individual events and high level sponsorship from sponsors such as national newspapers was sought.  However, there was no guarantee that the receipt of sponsorship would continue.  Reducing the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30