Leeds & West Yorkshire

New trust to run Leeds' cultural venues

Hyde Park Picture House Image copyright Tony OConnell/Leeds City Council
Image caption The Hyde Park Picture House is one of three venues to be handed over to an independent trust

Control of three of Leeds' cultural venues is to be given to a new independent charitable trust.

Leeds City Council has approved plans to hand over the reins of The Grand Theatre, City Varieties Music Hall and the Hyde Park Picture House.

All three venues have reported "significant annual deficits" in recent years, a council report said.

Council leader Keith Wakefield said the move would allow the venues to "move to a new level of success".

The decision to hand over control was taken after an assessment was carried out by Festivals and Events International (FEI).

FEI reported the three venues had made deficits, before Leeds City Council grant funding, over the last six years ranging between £196,000 and £716,000.

'Undoubted jewels'

Ahead of the decision being approved Mr Wakefield said: "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."

He said: "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."

The report said that while the venues, have struggled financially, recent improvements mean they have "potential for a break-even position for the current financial year".

They are currently managed by Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Limited, a charity owned by the council.

Image copyright Tony OConnell/Leeds City Council
Image caption Leeds' Grand Theatre (pictured), City Varieties and Hyde Park Picture House have reported deficits

It said the trust would have the freedom to sub-contract the running of each venue to a commercial organisation, but that decision would lie with the trust.

The Grand Theatre, in New Briggate, the City Varieties, in Swan Street, and the Hyde Park Picture House, in Brudenell Road, put on more than 1,500 screenings and performances during 2013/14.

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