What We Did Last Year
Following is an extract from our Annual Report for the Year 2010 - 2011
Over the past year the Brewery, like so many organisations the length and breadth of the country, has wrestled with the dilemma of how to deliver first-class services whilst operating with reduced financial support. At the same time the ongoing effects of the economy have changed the attendance patterns of many of our audiences and the weather continued to cause problems for our activities, both here in Kendal and at the Café in the Forest.
Clearly this time of change is unsettling for everyone, and it is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the team here at the Brewery that despite all these challenges we have offered another wide-ranging and exciting programme of performances, activities, events and classes, whilst delivering a small operating profit over the financial year. It is also a tribute to the people of Kendal and of Cumbria and beyond, that in a time of financial pressure, they continue to attend Brewery activities and support our programme, which would be the envy of a far larger town or even a city.
This year has seen the Brewery establish strong partnerships and strategies, which will set us in good stead for the future. The relationship with Arts Council England has strengthened and is both creative and supportive. Similarly South Lakeland District Council, Kendal Town Council and Cumbria County Council have all been keen to support our work and helps us achieve our potential.
As the Brewery seeks new audiences for its programme of activity it is important we maximise the potential of visitors to the county and a growing relationship with Cumbria Tourism will help us in this work over the coming years. Allied to this activity is a thorough ongoing review of who attends the Brewery and how they wish to engage with the Brewery. This research will give us a clear picture of those who currently make use of the Brewery and those who do not and inform a new marketing strategy, which will make our communication more efficient and effective in the future.
Creatively, the programme of performances developed and grew over the year, with our first family Christmas show, in partnership with Merseyside based Spike Theatre, being an artistic and popular success. Danny the Champion of the World was attended by record numbers of schools, who not only enjoyed the performance but used the show as the springboard for class activity.
Other personal programme highlights this year included Mimika Theatre’s show Small Worlds, performed to an audience of captivated families in a tent, pitched on the Brewery main stage and the dramatically stark and technologically breathtaking Beachy Head by Analogue Productions.
The Brewery Youth Arts team continued to offer a wide range of classes for up to 700 young people each week in term time, whilst also developing exciting projects in association with partner organisations. Many of these, including the Bee Creative visual arts project and the A2B (From Asia to Brewery) project, have proved so successful, with both participants and funders, that they are due to develop and grow with an additional year of activity.
At the same time events, such as the La’al Sing and Dance Platforms, have become established and exciting opportunities for huge numbers of young people to perform on the Brewery’s professional stage.
At times in the past year the uncertainty about the economy and the funding landscape for future years has made it hard to see beyond the immediate future and a good deal of energy has been focused on the challenging year ahead. However 2010/11 has also been a time to explore how the Brewery can develop and grow in the future.
Late in the financial year we learned that our application to help deliver the Arts Council’s strategic framework, Great Art for Everyone, was successful. The application process challenged the Brewery to define its artistic policy up to 2015 and the successful award means we have a clearer picture of the financial support available to us, to develop our three ambitions; to present great art and entertainment for everyone, offer inspiring learning experiences to all and create innovative and challenging new art.
The continued financial support from South Lakeland District Council and Kendal Town Council also supports our vision for the future, and allows us to play our part in developing a vibrant creative life and thriving economy in South Lakeland. Research carried out by Lancaster University, in 2009/10, supports this ambition. Their research indicates that the Brewery delivers more than £8 million back into the local economy and provides an important creative hub for the district.
An important element in delivering our vision for the future is a feasibility study, started in 2009/10, which will explore how the Brewery can best harness its existing resources and develop areas of its activity to their full potential, by expanding the current building. The results of this work are eagerly anticipated as the Brewery looks to continue its current work through a challenging year and presses towards an exciting future.
Richard Foster, Chief Executive Officer