by Flying Geese Consultant, Beckie Smith

Screen shot of Culture in Common website home page

Introduction

With a view of securing Arts Council NPO status in 2022 we worked with Gloucester Guildhall to develop a new strategic business plan for the next 5 – 7 years. Gloucester Guildhall is Gloucester’s flagship arts venue.

 

Consultation and research

It was vital that the new Gloucester Guildhall was at the very heart of the people, the culture and the economy of the city so we mapped the key stakeholder groups and conducted a thorough consultancy process. Tactics included, one-to-one interviews with the staff which focused on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks of the Guildhall, and a thorough resident’s survey for users and non-users of Gloucester Guildhall to gain understanding of brand awareness, brand perception, audience behaviour, user experience, communications & marketing, external engagement with other cultural offers and the value that The Guildhall had amid its communities. We also conducted a street survey for non-users and held one-to-one conversations with residents, focus groups, community groups & community influencers.

We familiarised ourselves with the financial processes of The Guildhall, understood the current & anticipated financial situation and conducted desk based research with a view of creating one concise narrative over a number of already existing reports, evaluations and surveys.

 

Developing the strategy

With a new vision for Gloucester Guildhall already in place, our research above lead to the development of the new business strategy.

We identified target audiences using publicly available data (Census data and EAPR data) and overlaid it with internal and external research to identify three key target audiences based on current market acquisition (current audiences), future market growth potential (future audiences) and the balance between the Council’s priorities of income generation and community development.

We facilitated a half day workshop that saw key people within the team come together to contribute towards strategic goals which we then developed and refined.

We developed a programme of recommendations that put audience engagement at the very heart of the programme – facilitating that first stepping stone of engagement, nurturing them to grow in bravery and develop confidence in the venue. Our programme focused on boosting first time audiences but also enabled existing audiences to develop their relationship with culture, so they see a greater variety of work, build sizeable audiences and generate income.

We conducted a feasibility study into the current space within The Guildhall with a view of kickstarting a capital programme a few years down the line. The feasibility study assessed the appropriateness of each space for its activity, health & safety, adaptability, environment and smaller requirements (such as tools, resources and equipment).

We developed a series of strategies that would take The Guildhall into the future and included a digital programme, a partnership programme, community curated programme, ‘lets create’ programme and a capital development strategy.

Our business plan was supported by an intricately presented set of accounts and projected accounts to demonstrate investment and projected return over the course.

 

Legacy and Impact

We were delighted to learn that our business proposal for the Guildhall was successful in securing Arts Council NPO status in the 2022 selection process. Not only did the Guildhall team have a clear and methodical business plan to inform their future decision making but the council had confidence that the plan was robust, rooted in data and was developed in consultation with the communities. The impact and influence of the business plan was not limited to just the Guildhall, but the city as a whole, as the series of strategies that supported the plan, brought different aspects of city life together, making sure that The Guildhall really did have a future that was at the very hub of the city’s cultural offer.