Bury St Edmunds: Council subsidy for Apex venue is less than expected

The Apex in Bury St Edmunds The Apex in Bury St Edmunds

Mariam Ghaemi West Suffolk senior reporter mariam.ghaemi@archant.co.uk
Friday, January 31, 2014
4:42 PM

A music and entertainment venue that cost more than £18million of public money to build is likely to be within budget for the first time since opening, a report has said.

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An interim annual performance report for the Apex in Bury St Edmunds said revenue had been increasing and savings were being made.

While the venue is not yet making a profit, the amount of subsidy St Edmundsbury Borough Council –which owns the Apex – is paying out on it is currently under budget. The subsidy was reduced in 2013 from £775,000 a year to £742,250.

Referring to the Apex’s financial position, the report said: “It would be reasonable to assume therefore that the Apex will be within its overall budget for 2013/14.”

Councillor Sarah Stamp, cabinet member for heritage, arts and culture at the borough council, said: “These figures are encouraging, but I recognise we need to do more.

“I remain totally committed to reducing the level of subsidy required to operate the Apex, whilst maintaining it as a high quality venue which brings many social and economic benefits to the arts and cultural offering across west Suffolk.

“Both our new staffing structure, which includes the appointment of a commercial team, and our partnerships, most significantly with Sodexo, are enabling us to move closer to this objective.

“In addition to this I chair a performance panel which meets monthly and scrutinises all aspects of the Apex.”

The report said turnover from Sodexo, the venue’s hospitality provider, was steadily increasing, the new staffing structure is planned to lead to savings and audiences for music and light entertainment programmes were growing.

“The Apex continues establishing itself as an important local and regional venue, capitalising on its world-class acoustics,” the report says. Figures show an increase in sales of 22% from 2011 to 2012 and a 7% increase from 2012 to 2013.

The report, which went before a council committee on Wednesday, said: “This increase in overall value is a reflection of the programming team’s hard work to show a return on investment by programming our own events where the rewards are potentially greater.”

The Apex, which opened in 2010, and the town’s Theatre Royal will be working together to build on each of the venues’ strengths and sell each others’ tickets. The report said lettings of the Apex as a hall for hire were increasing, but there was scope to increase this further.

In conclusion, it said: “The Apex management team has been successful in the initial three-year period of operation. The team are well placed, particularly with the new structure, to capitalise on successes of the past and also learn from experiences to date. The combination of continuity of expertise combined with the new focus on delivering more commercially will start to pay dividends in 2014.”

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