WEE Report Released

The long awaited Top Secret Consultant Report commissioned by Deputy Dictator Eugenie Sherry, acting on her position as chair of both the Smalltown and Dullbridge (SaD) Town Council Top Secret Human Resources Sub-Committee and the WEE Mismanagement Committee, in an attempt to answer the question ‘What is a White Elephant Enclosure?‘ is no longer Top Secret.

The contents of the (No Longer) Top Secret Report have been released and are due to be discussed at a SaDTC Extraordinary WEE Mismanagement Committee meeting next week.

To save SomersetClive readers the trouble of wading through the pages of Artificially Unintelligently produced words we have wasted our time reading it for you.

Firstly, the answer to that burning question ‘What is a White Elephant Enclosure‘. Much mention is made of the ‘almost seven’ community groups that use the WEE at a reduced hire rate to demonstrate that it isn’t simply all about the Elephants, before the report concedes that a White Elephant Enclosure is a… well… it’s a White Elephant. And an unsuccessful White Elephant at that.

Luckily the Consultants have come up with a range of ideas which they believe, if implemented, will make it a successful White Elephant Enclosure in the future. To help form those ideas they have broken down the problems and solutions into several dinosaur bite-sized and easily remedied solutions.

Firstly, staffing. The current remaining staff have tried their very best since the Smalltown Culture and Arts Manager left her job at the end of last year, but they lack leadership. So what is needed is a New Smalltown Culture and Arts Manager. What an inspiring idea. Why has no one else thought of that?

Several paragraphs are devoted to what the WEE Mismanagement Committee should look for in the ideal candidate, concluding that it should be someone who can come up with, and implement, new ideas to increase revenue and audience numbers, as well as apply for grant funding. Which, weirdly, are the same qualifications all the other departed WEE managers have had, but which didn’t help any of them make a success of the WEE.

Secondly, income needs to increase if the WEE is ever to make more money and rely less on SaD Council Tax Payers money. Wow. These Consultants really are clever aren’t they?

The report then looks into the lack of ticket sales at the WEE and details the demographic target audiences – with three different condescending categories found:-
House & Antique. An audience which is comprised of older, retired or semi-retired people who own their own homes and have all, or almost all of their own teeth. They enjoy reading, gardening, period dramas, and watching wildlife programmes on BBC1.

It is suggested that, to cater for this demographic, the WEE concentrates on featuring adaptations of Dickens, talks about flowers, gentle elephant documentaries in which nothing awful happens to the elephants, or old films (hasn’t that last one been tried before?).

All of which should be marketed as ‘suitable for a mature audience seeking familiar and comforting experiences‘, as obviously this identified mature generation definitely did not invent Rock’n’Roll nor experiment with drugs, nor were they liberated by the invention of birth control, and neither did they laugh at anarchic comedy from Minty Python or anything written by the partnership of Roy Gallstone and Andy Simpleton. No, they fought in the war and love Dame Vera Flynn, Arthur Ashtray and Buster Heaton and nowadays they don’t want to watch anything too taxing and they’d really prefer to keep their slippers on, thank you very much.

The second identified audience is given the title ‘Special Occasion We Need To Save Up For‘. This category is for traditional families which are made up of Mum, Dad and two children – from school age to teens. These families ‘lead comfortable but modest lifestyles, they own their own homes, are closely connected to their relatives and have never left Smalltown. It is suggested that they might possibly enjoy family-oriented programming, such as musicals or children’s theatre and these performances should be marketed as a fun outing for all the family. Or at least those families who can afford the ticket prices.

The final targeted audience is ‘Sleepy in Smalltown‘ – small-town residents who own their own homes, drive a new or nearly new car and are members of the National Trust. These people apparently
‘value community engagement’ and like to see local people starring in local productions based in local places and aimed at local people. Marketing efforts should stress what a wonderful venue the WEE is, the seats really aren’t that uncomfortable if you bring a cushion and you may even catch a glimpse of Susan at No.94’s knickers as she takes the lead in the classic farce ‘No Sex, Please. This is Smalltown‘.

It should be noted that all of the members of these suggested demographs must live in Smalltown as, much like our Councillors, the Consultants have failed to acknowledge that Dullbridge exists – a town which, through no fault of its own regularly appears on lists of the ‘Most Deprived Areas of the UK’, with residents having very little disposable income. So that immediately halves the number of potential audience for the WEE.

So, now that the users and audiences have been identified and a new Smalltown Culture and Arts Manager appointed, how do the consultants suggest revenue is increased? It’s a simple four-step plan.

  1. Decrease the subsidy given to the Community User groups. Make them pay more for the privilege of using the WEE, they obviously couldn’t go anywhere else, so bleed them dry.
  2. Increase the charges for anyone wanting to use the WEE to put on a show. All those events which are either worked on a split basis between the performer and the WEE, or are hired directly by the performers. Increasing the fees to use the WEE will no doubt mean ticket prices will rise, which will no doubt lead to fewer people buying tickets and… well never mind, because the WEE can…
  3. Introduce a Booking Fee. Yes, anyone who books a ticket for an event can simply pay more in extra charges. Plus another extra charge for delivery of the tickets too. Genius.
  4. The contract for Bellends Cafe should be renegotiated up to a higher rent, so they can pay for the privilege of serving more expensive food to fewer customers, because numbers one to three will undoubtedly lead to a decrease in audience numbers, no matter how something is marketed to an identified audience.

The idea of increasing numbers at a venue where few tickets are sold by increasing the costs of those tickets will most likely see even fewer people use the WEE but, in case none of the above ideas work, the consultants also suggest applying for grants from the All-New-Yet-Unimproved Somerset Cuonty Council or the Council of Arts. Now that really is a novel idea isn’t it?

The WEE has previously been awarded several funds from those sources, plus additional grants from the Chernobyl-by-Sea Slush Fund and the Corvid Business Schemes.

The Report then turns its attention to the WEE Mismanagement Committee which ‘aims to position the WEE as a valuable asset within the services provided by SaD Town Council. They recognise the need to champion and communicate the value gained from the WEE to the wider council and community’. Hopefully a Committee member will be able to come up with a way to communicate that ‘value’ because so far the WEE has cost Smalltown and Dullbridge residents close to £10 million, with very little to show for it.

The Consultants suggest that the WEE Mismanagement Committee ‘should establish itself as a strategic leadership
board, actively involved in strategic decision-making and setting the direction for the WEE’s future’.

Given that the Committee is made up of Councillors who couldn’t lead a Conga, let alone anything as complex as making strategic decisions for a business, and with successive committees and managers finding that the only direction they can take is the same well-worn path which takes them round and round in circles, there really is no hope.

One thought on “WEE Report Released

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *