Report of the Managing Director.
Members received a report of the Managing Director providing updates from the Barbican Directors on their respective areas. The following comments were made:
· The Managing Director stated that things were on track with number of events going ahead. It was noted that the 17 May opening was only made certain when Government gave confirmation one week before and the same was expected for 21 June announcement.
· Members were advised that EDI underpinned all work and this, along with the civic strategy with Gulbenkian alliance, the Barbican Renewal Project, the Centre’s approach to hybrid working and the development of Business Model, was fully intertwined in the future plan for the Centre.
· The Managing Director introduced Will Gompertz, the new Director of Arts & Learning from 1 June, to the Board who stated he was looking forward to working with the Board on this next step for the Centre.
· The Chair gave thanks to the Interim Director of Arts & Learning, Leo Thomson, and the Head of Finance and Business Administration, Niki Cornwell, for the fantastic work they had achieved who were attending their last Board meeting. These thanks were echoed by Members.
· The Statutory Deputy Chair was pleased to hear that demand for business events was increasing, good to hear, but voiced caution regarding the 21 June deadline which could potentially shift highlighting the need for a plan b. Officers confirmed they were happy with uptake of pre-booked tickets, and were interested to see how demand continues as some surveys were indicating reluctance by some visitors; however, this could not be assessed until the restrictions were lifted. The biggest uncertainty was for the theatre programme.
· The Managing Director highlighted the need for the Business model to be extraordinarily flexible. The return of people remained challenging as the public sentiment and reluctance to travel may lead to a younger audience in person. Also, with everyone reopening at the same time, there was a need to compete against competitors.
· In response to the issues for theatre and potentially not fulfilling wanted audience number and how this would affect the Centre’s food offerings, members were advised that they were gradually reopening with demand and that the restaurants would open as appropriate as theatre reopens.
· A Member enquired, given the uncertainty, if Officers were planning for worst case scenarios for the rest of the year and was informed that they were strategically looking at all scenarios with a final decision dependant on the Government and the City Corporation’s instructions. It was hoped they would avoid a further closure.
· In response to a question concerning risk sharing with external Partners, Officers confirmed that there was demand; however, whilst Cinema and Music were able to adapt more easily with securing rentals, the Theatre and Gallery were more complex due to large productions. With regards to financials, a cautious view had been taken on income assumptions and Officers continued to review forecasts quarterly.