Penarth Pier Pavilion Update
Nov 09, 2017
In a few weeks’ time, on 1st December, the Pavilion will have been open to the public for four years. We are very proud of what has been achieved during that time, with a wide variety of events and activities taking place. This milestone in the life of the restored Pavilion provides us with an opportunity to look forward and to lay out our ideas for the future. After several months of detailed planning and discussions with a wide range of individuals and organisations we are confident that we now have the basis for a viable and sustainable future for the Pavilion.
The sole objective of the grant received from the Heritage Lottery Fund at the end of March was to achieve a financially sustainable position by the end of 2018. The award of this grant acknowledged the fact that, although the Pavilion is managed by a charity, Penarth Arts and Crafts Limited, the future of the Pavilion could only be achieved through long-term commercial sustainability. We have therefore undertaken a detailed evaluation of our main commercial activities. In so doing we have also given considerable attention to the need for the Pavilion to continue as an important facility for community activities.
For some months now, we have been making many changes to the Café. These changes have been supported by the help and advice received from Kasim Ali, the owner of the Washington Tea Rooms and other similar facilities across Cardiff. We are most grateful for the contribution of Kasim and members of his staff and are confident that the changes which we have made and will continue to make will result in this aspect of the Pavilion becoming a ‘Café of destination’. A new Café Manager, Dale O’Brien, joined us at the beginning of October. To coincide with Dale’s appointment, we have introduced a new cafe menu initially consisting of sandwiches, toasties, jacket potatoes, sweet jacket potatoes all prepared to order with fillings freshly made daily as well as a daily homemade soup and homemade scones and cakes. We are currently recruiting a cook and food preparation assistant to take this forward and add hot dishes to the menu. We are also planning a series of pop-up cafes, inviting Vale and Cardiff chefs to come and take over the Café for an evening to present themed menus. The first of these will be on 11th November and full details are available on our web site.
We will be presenting a series of jazz nights, the first of which took place on 4thNovember, featuring students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama leading up to Christmas and hopefully to continue into the new year on a regular basis. There will also be two choral events in the week before Christmas. Full details will be posted on our web site.
The Pavilion has rapidly become ‘the venue of choice’ for many commercial activities, including weddings, family parties, musical events and business meetings. To date we have limited the number of such events in order to maintain maximum access to the building by the general public. However, we now recognise that the future of such community use can best be assured by a significant increase in the commercial hire of the promises, particularly for weddings. In future months, therefore, we plan to publicise the availability of the Pavilion for a wide range of commercial activities with an emphasis on weddings.
A key feature of the Pavilion since it re-opened has been the regular provision of art exhibitions in the Main Hall. This has led to the perception amongst some sections of the community of the Pavilion being mainly an ‘art gallery’. We will certainly continue to put on a variety of exhibitions but the emphasis will be on local art as far as possible as well as promoting art amongst certain disadvantaged groups such as those with a disability
As most of you know we have been looking at how we can best make use of the auditorium/cinema going forward in a way that does not present a risk to the Charity and we have been in talks with a local pop-up cinema, Snowcat Cinema about presenting a series of cinema events. Snowcat has been involved in cinema screenings at the Paget Rooms, All Saints church as well as venues in Cardiff. The first screening was a Halloween special in half term on the 30th and 31st October. Two further screenings are scheduled for 14th and 28th November and it is hoped to have special screenings for Christmas. We are looking at working with other pop-up cinemas as well as inviting film clubs and societies to use the cinema facilities.
The success of our operations within the Pavilion to date have only been achieved through the efforts of a small, dedicated staff group, the involvement of the Board of Trustees, the majority of whom are themselves residents of Penarth, and the on-going support of a group of loyal volunteers. We are therefore pleased to report that, in partnership, with Glamorgan Voluntary Services, a new part-time Volunteer Coordinator has been appointed to work exclusively with the Pavilion. This post will provide important support for existing volunteers and will hopefully lead to the recruitment of additional resources.