We have considering the report in details. There are some inaccuracies. I thought it would be helpful to identify them.
"Are there implications for equality and diversity and cohesion and integration?" Here the box marked NO is ticked. This is wrong.
Point 3. "Since the departure of Northern ballet and Opera North to new premises approximately 40% of the building has been unoccupied . ." we have lots of issues with this a statement of fact.
Until we were asked to mothball some rooms to save money and to lose money (to save on paying rates and lose out on offered income), all rooms were in use at some point, often until 10pm at night.
Would-be hirers were turned away, until the demand got so strong that we sometimes just had to open the door of the room and put people in it, sometimes even whole orchestras. See below.
|Concert after a day's workshop in the West Park Gym 21 October 2012|
Now the word 40% has very strong overtones. It makes the West Park Centre appear to have been almost half empty! And here it is written in the report on the first page in numbers which stand out against a sea of letters.
On page 2 Recommendations i. "officers further develop Options 2 and 5 in consultation with potential users ."
I was there when Cllr Wakefield said they could not start to discuss the report properly until councillors had met with the West Park Campaign Group. During this council meeting at no point did anyone confine themselves to Options 2 and 5. This is just a recommendation from the council officer.
On page 3 , "The majority of regular use is from organisations who do not use the building for its location in the particular locality and could therefore relocate to another area of the city."
Well, yes, it has attracted organisations from around and even well outside Leeds, drawn to it for its excellent facilities, layout and its convenient situation just off the Leeds ring road. But, more, more than that, they come for the ambience and for the synergy and the syncronicity that is sharing a building with users of both a similar and a dissimilar disposition.
eg. On The days when I rehearsed with my steelbands I would come in to the sounds of brass and percussion and go out past the ballroom dancers, and it would lift my heart to see the waltz and the quickstep still in action. Last year some of my very inner-city boys came to rehearse at the Centre for the for the first time, and I found them standing staring at a sectional string practice. Giggling and pointing, in awe and amused.
So I would say, no they can't just "relocate"
2.7 "The building does have high running costs (approx £350k a year). Due to. . .inefficient design . . Income approx £45k pa offsets some of this expenditure. "
Now, the perfect and inclusive Arts, Sports and General Culture Centre would consist of a building with one or two storeys with performance spaces at the end of 3 or 4 spurs, so that sounds wouldn't bleed into each other. Safe, fenced-off grassy areas for playtimes, and fields adjacent for outdoor sports. A large carpark for the minibuses with disabled access. Gyms with sprung floors and mirrors so they can do sports and dance. Many large storerooms essentially opposite the carpark for easy loading. Easy to find coming from all parts of Leeds just off the Otley Road], and from all other towns in the north [just off the ringroad].
Musicians could get into other cultural activities and sportspeople could check out the instruments they would like to try etc etc etc etc. Foxtrot anyone?
The reason that income was so low is that some groups paid nothing or next to nothing. Costed up properly you would see that the Council was correctly spending money where the mouth is - on the young people and on the disabled and those with additional needs. Not as money as such, but in the form of a building which specially adapted itself over time.
Page 9 "ArtForms service delivery from City of Leeds has been successful to date and the music service would like to continue delivering from the school. . . YAMSEN . . . their temporary solution does not meet their long term needs."
Well, the ArtForms admin team is working from a previously mothballed floor in Merrion House; the City of Leeds Youth Music Bands and Orchestras rehearse at City of Leeds School or at Sacred Heart PS, and the instrument stock is in a warehouse at Domestic Street. It is not for me to comment here as to how this might constitute "successful", but I am guessing not ideal.
YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic however has no solution, temporary or otherwise. Its instruments, its specialised equipment designed for the needs of its children and adults with Additional/Special Needs lie, unaccessed at various locations around Leeds, the team has to book and pay full rate for rooms where it can find them; the Friday YAM adult sessions are just about surviving at the West Park Church in Spen Lane; the Christmas Singalong was cancelled [for the first time in decades]; the Big Town Hall Concert went ahead with some difficulty. Music therapy sessions are at Heart in Headingley.
to be continued . . . .