A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about transparency in the arts, and how venues could work better with artists. As part of that I promised the Albany would publish an explanation or how our finances work.
We made a few discoveries along the way, not least how much money finds its way directly to artists. It also reveals that the way we operate generates a lot more income for artistic work than we get from the Arts Council – for every £1 they give us, we spend £5 on the artistic programme.
I’m aware that figures could be presented in different ways, but I’ve kept it simple, so everyone can see beyond the published accounts and understand what decisions are made with the money we have.
So, based on our budget for 2018/19, here goes.
Our total projected income for the year is £2,770,000.
We get core funding from:
- Arts Council England – £176k a year, confirmed till 2022 as a National Portfolio Organisation, this accounts for 6% of our total income
- Lewisham Council – core funding of £188k a year (7% of total income). This has been reduced by around 30% in the last few years and is up for review this year. It should be noted that this funding is essentially for the Albany as a community resource rather than solely as an arts organisation.
We expect to generate £369k (13%) additional income from fundraising during the year, and most of this will be spent on specific creative projects. £140k of this comes from our partnership with local housing provider Lewisham Homes to provide creative engagement across our home borough. £79k comes from Lewisham Council to support the Meet Me at the Albany project for isolated older people. We expect to earn another £150k by applying for grants, or getting donations, such as through our A Theatre Trip for Every Child Campaign.
The Albany has contracts with Lewisham and Southwark Council to manage two other cultural and community facilities – Deptford Lounge and Canada Water Theatre. We expect to earn a total of £707k (26% of total) this year from these contracts (including from hiring spaces within each building). Most of that income goes on managing the buildings and delivering the agreed services – though we do have an arrangement where we can reinvest any additional earnings from hires into the cultural programme at each venue.
There are two (mainly) autonomous projects which sit within the Albany – Fun Palaces and the Family Arts Campaign. In total these will generate £411k during the year (15% of income) which will be spent directly on delivering the projects.
We hire out spaces in the Albany building – theatre, meeting/rehearsal rooms and offices (for 26 resident organisations). In total we will earn £395k from this (14% of income).
The cafes across sites generate £335k income (12% of the total) but all of this is spent on delivering the service – that’s the subject of a whole other blog but it helps explain why we can still offer cups of tea for £1.
We try and keep ticket prices at a reasonable level, and many of our programmes are free or very low cost (e.g. for young people, Meet Me at the Albany, outdoor summer events). Income from ticket sales is £161k (6% of income).
How we spend it
We have a break even budget projected for the year. Our direct costs for the artistic programme are £539k a year (including marketing spend), which is 19% of the total. A large proportion of that goes directly to artists – but more of that later.
The team directly delivering that programme is the ten people who make up the creative programmes, production/technical and marketing teams – they cost a total of £316k (11% the total). That makes a total of £855k spent directly on the artistic programme.
In terms of other staff, a total of £515k (19% of the total) is spent on:
- The team made up of my role (CEO/Artistic Director), Chief Operating Officer, and the finance and admin teams costing £242k.
- The operations and premises team for the Albany building – including Duty Managers, cleaners and the Box Office/Reception costing £164k.
- The team leading on fundraising and business development/hires across all three buildings costing £109k.
We’ve reduced building and administration costs consistently over recent years. Our building costs for the Albany itself – from maintenance to utility bills – will be £116k this year. Our total administration and finance costs – from insurance and bank charges to phones and stationery – are £73k. That adds up to 189k (7% of the total).
The remainder is spent on managing Deptford Lounge and Canada Water Theatre, delivering Fun Palaces, the Family Arts Campaign and the cafe service – as well as some for depreciation, contingencies etc.
What does that mean for artists?
As the starting point for this was looking at how venues work with artists, I thought it would be useful to work out how much money will be paid directly to artists from this budget – it’s the first time we’ve calculated it in this way – and it adds up to £285k in total, in addition to the £30k plus of free space we offer on an annual basis (£315k in total).
Probably the most useful comparison for that figure of £315k (cash and in kind) for artists is against the income for the Albany from the Arts Council (£176k) and from ticket sales (£161k). I think that stacks up pretty well?
There are other ways of looking at this of course, and many ways we could change how the organisation works, based on a realistic look at the figures. We’re open to having that conversation. My immediate thought is that we may well be spreading the money for artists too thinly, working with lots of artists but not making enough difference with the resources we have. At the other end of the scale, what would it look like if we used the Arts Council money to say, employ 6 artists full time for a year? I wonder how that might also work for audiences and participants?
As with the last blog, I hope a number of artists will comment. We’d really like feedback and to know if this is useful. I suspect, as last time, venues (apart from ARC Stockton) will mostly be silent. Isn’t it time we were all – funders, venues and artists – a little more transparent?