The Joint Committee considered the Commandery development future phases.
The Joint Committee received a presentation by Gemma Dhami, Learning Volunteering and Partnerships Manager on the learning programme for schools at the Commandery.
At the conclusion of the presentation, the following principal points were raised:
· Was the project aimed at any particular age group? Gemma Dhami indicated that the programme was aimed at children between the ages of 11 and 16 however there were some creative aspects of the programme that could be beneficial to younger children. It could also be used for adult learning
· In response to a query, Gemma Dhami indicated that the project had been funded for current academic year only
· Had any thought been given to rolling the project forward for future learning and seeking other potential forms of funding? Gemma Dhami commented that it was possible that certain element of the programme could be retained for example the theatre piece which schools could book and fund with their sessions
· Was the English Civil War part of the national curriculum? Gemma Dhami indicated that it was taught as part of Hey Stage 3 history, dependent upon the approach taken by the relevant teacher
· Had other schools from outside the county participated in the educational programme? Gemma Dhami commented that schools from South Wales and Gloucestershire had accessed the facilities available at the Commandery.
The Joint Committee considered each of the themes of the Commandery future development phases and the following principal points were raised:
· In response to a query, Gemma Dhami stated that the number of school visits had increased since the refurbishment of the Commandery. The joint service was also looking to expand its adult education programme. Philippa Tinsley added that the joint service had been particularly successful in developing a family audience but would also wish to increase the historical interest audience. The success of funding for partnerships with universities at Newark had showed the benefits of the provision of a strong popular offer grounded in an authentic historical context
· Did the joint service know its target market for the Commandery? Helen Large commented that the joint service aimed to attract customers from within a 45 minute drive time radius who would purchase the highest ticket price (the family market target). However there was capacity to consider targeting an older market as well as a more specialist market
· Was the Tickenhill Trust being used to its full potential as an additional source of funding for the joint service? Hannah Needham indicated that there were plans to more fully maximise the potential of the Trust as a form of Charitable Trust that could access funds that would not normally be available to council-run organisations.
· Philippa Tinsley explained that a part-time wedding co-ordinator had been employed for one year as part of the development funding by Worcester City Council. The Café at the Commandery had been particularly successful since the redevelopment, making the most from the space available and improving access to the gardens which increased its potential to link with Fort Royal Hill Park
· The Café was now accessible from the canal side which provided a different and more appropriate target market
· In response to a query, Philippa Tinsley explained that the joint service received a percentage of the profits from the Café. The Café had already performed better since its re-opening than for the whole of the previous year
· Subject to discussions with Conservation Officer, there might be potential to re-arrange the fabric of the building to provide better access to the gardens to attract passing trade
· Concern was expressed that Worcester City Council's income generation and masterplan funds had been included as a source of income for the development of the Commandery, as there could be no guarantee that this funding would be available. Philippa Tinsley would liaise with the City Council to ascertain whether this remained a viable source of capital funding.
· The joint service could establish whether there would be any benefit from establishing links with the Infirmary Museum in Castle Street, Worcester
· The potential impact of a successful museum and gardens to the health and well-being of its customers should not be underestimated
· Had data been accumulated about which other venues customers had visited? Helen Large indicated that the data available only related to the type of venue visited
· Had any data been accumulated on the dwell-time of visitors at the Commandery? Helen Large indicated that since its re-opening dwell time had increased as follows: dwell time of less than an hour down from 27% to 3%, dwell time of more than an hour had increased from 47% to 55%, dwell time of 1 to 1.5 hours had increased from 79% to 94% and people staying over 3 hours - 3%. The dwell time included time spent by visitors in the Café and the shop
· Was the history of the building as a printing facility a viable option for a future display at the Commandery? Philippa Tinsley commented that the Civil War was, and should remain the main focus of the building however there was space available to display other stories associated with the use of the building
· It was requested that an update report on the future development of the Commandery be brought to a future meeting.
a) The successful grant applications to fund the new education initiatives at The Commandery be noted;
b) The proposed future developments as set out in the Appendix be approved;
c) The Interim General Museums Manager be authorised to start discussions on future development with partners and with funding bodies; and
d) An update report on the development of the Commandery be brought to a future meeting of the Joint Committee.