Charity trust devastated as Vivacity hands back contract to Peterborough City Council
As a direct result of the financial impact of Covid-19, Vivacity, Peterborough’s charity for culture, leisure and heritage, has today (18 June) announced that it will terminate its contract with the City Council.
This has triggered a 90-day transition period during which Vivacity will work with the Council to transfer back services as the Council makes decisions on future delivery models including 10 libraries, the Key Theatre, museum, Lido, Flag Fen, Regional Pool and the health and leisure facilities at Bretton, Dogsthorpe, Hampton, Netherton, Orton and Werrington.
Since the announcement of the national lockdown on 20 March, Vivacity’s facilities and services have been closed and 98% of its c500 employees placed on furlough. This has had a devastating impact on the charity’s revenue with an estimated £8 million loss of annualised income. In addition, Vivacity is expecting a slow return to previous volumes of gym usage which drives the bulk of the income to support its full range of services. The leisure/fitness sector is widely predicting customer volume and revenue will be down by as much as 50% with recovery taking up to 18 months from the lifting of lockdown restrictions.
Stewart Francis, chair of Vivacity trustees, said
“This has been an extremely difficult and painful decision to make. We are devastated.
“Vivacity has been caught in a perfect financial storm. Covid-19 has switched off our revenues for 13 weeks already. There would be significant costs of re-opening and we are predicting a major loss of income as we implement social distancing and reduce capacities. This immediate shock comes alongside the well-publicised budget pressures of the Council that have resulted in continued reductions in its contributions to Vivacity.
“Regrettably, given this combination of financial pressures, the Trustees cannot see a viable future that allows Vivacity to continue to deliver its charitable objectives to promote health and well-being and arts and culture in the city. We have concluded that the only option for Peterborough and for the charity’s employees is to give notice to terminate the contract with the Council as of 18 June 2020.
“The Trustees recognise how vital culture and leisure services are to the people of Peterborough. This decision has been made with enormous regret and only after we have made exhaustive efforts to find a way forward that could have guaranteed a sustainable future for the charity and the services it provides. We are proud of what Vivacity has achieved over the last ten years and of the immense efforts of our people, including our hundreds of passionate volunteers.
“We will now work closely with the Council to support our employees as far as possible. I am acutely aware of how difficult this situation will be for them. It is their efforts and the fantastic support of our 116,000 customers that has enabled Vivacity to help put Peterborough on the cultural map and make such a difference to the lives of those who live here.”
Since its creation in 2010 Vivacity has worked with many partners to deliver a greatly enhanced leisure and cultural offer for Peterborough. A recent independent study calculated that the charity contributes £60 million of social value to the city every year. Over that time, it has also increased its revenues by 177% and enabled a 70% reduction in Council funding. Vivacity’s services attract over 1.8 million visits a year. Peterborough has also benefitted that while others have seen library closures, Vivacity has been opening more of them, including the book bus.
Vivacity is not insolvent and has sufficient financial reserves to manage the transfer of the contract back to the Council and to honour all outstanding financial commitments.
Stewart Francis continued, “I fervently believe that culture and leisure are essential to the fabric of any flourishing, modern city. They make a place vibrant. They help people to live healthy, fulfilled lives.
“But like any other service they need a secure financial future if they are to thrive. The financial impacts of Covid-19 could be existential for many of these essential services. I fear that without significant Government financial support we will see services such as theatres, museums and libraries closing across the country.”
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