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Lessons will be learnt from Cambridge Live

News release from 01/10/2019

CAMBRIDGE City Council has committed to learn from the experience of setting up Cambridge Live as a standalone organisation to run the city’s cultural services.

A report published ahead of the council’s Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee on 3 October, describes some of the contributing factors to the failure of Cambridge Live to meet its financial targets.

It concludes that both the council and Cambridge Live could have acted differently at key points in time, in ways that might have increased the chances of the independent trust developing into a successful and viable entity for the long-term.

The report was written by an independent consultant who reviewed the history of Cambridge Live, from its set-up and launch in October 2014 through to December 2018, when the council decided to bring Cambridge Live back into direct control.

The council worked closely with Cambridge Live over a period of months but by December 2018 both organisations agreed that it was in the best interests of residents, staff and customers, that the council took direct control of all activity covered by the current contract.

By April of this year, Cambridge Live was back under direct council control.

This meant that all events, shows and services in the 2019 programme, including Corn Exchange shows, the Cambridge Folk Festival, the Big Weekend and other events, continued as planned.

As far as customers were concerned, cultural services have continued in a way that is business as usual.

Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “This is a very useful report and it will help us all understand the lessons that can be learned, something that we are all keen to do.

“This report is absolutely not about apportioning blame to any individuals but about reflecting more widely on what was done well and what could have been done differently.

“I saw for myself the swift and decisive action officers took both to try to keep Cambridge Live afloat and then to save the cultural programme by bringing the organisation back in house.

“I’m glad to see the report highlights this and I'd really like to thank the former trustees who saw the handover through.

“However, there are also clearly things that were not as effective, and things that could be done better in the future. The council is committed to learning and applying these lessons learnt.”

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