Creative United is working with the Greater London Authority (GLA) to devise and deliver Premises Ready, a business programme which supports people and organisations to open cultural venues within London.
The programme has offered advice from industry insiders and experts from arts centres, cinemas, music and dance venues providing knowledge and insights to help creative businesses open a venue.

Katharine Ford from The Cinema Museum is one of the five successful applicants who are currently receiving free one-to-one advice from an industry specialist to boost them towards getting the keys to their own building.

Can you tell us a bit more about your project?
The Cinema Museum in Lambeth is a small independent museum founded in 1986. In 1998, the collection moved into its current home, the former Lambeth Workhouse where Charlie Chaplin spent part of his childhood. The museum is funded through events, admissions, wellbeing programmes, a shop and donations; it is a registered charity. Our mission is ensuring cinema history is accessible and affordable to all, and that our collections investigate and celebrate cinema artifacts and memories, encouraging newcomers into cinema, film and museum-based careers and volunteering. We are currently campaigning to provide security for our growing collection in its current, historically significant home. More information about our plans for the future of The Cinema Museum can be found here.

How did you find out about Premises Ready?
We were referred onto the project by the Culture at Risk Office of The Mayors Office.

What was your favourite part of the programme?
The networking was very good! The sessions with local council officers (planning, licensing, etc.) as speakers during the 2-day training sessions were very helpful – the opportunity to ask specific questions was particularly helpful. Our 1:1 meetings will focus on fundraising strategies. The opportunity to discuss our plans will be helpful and will offer the trustees of the charity additional scrutiny.

What are the main challenges for anyone looking to open a creative/cultural space?
This is a difficult question to answer succinctly because it depends on the different circumstances that each organisation finds themselves in.  However, in general and in no hierarchical order, I would say ensuring that they have a very clear idea of their current and potential accommodation needs are and that they are planning to deliver products/services that are relevant to people and potential audiences, customers, users, partners, funders and their local council.
It is also important to make sure they have a sustainable business plan that will ensure their long-term survival (fully costing the capital and revenue aspects of securing a property) and a realistic assessment of the full costs involved. You must have a good and realistic fundraising strategy in place and understand if their legal structure is the best fit for their planned business model. Having the appropriate management, staff and volunteers to execute the business plan is also essential. I would say it’s important to make sure you have a positive and united group of advisors/trustees and supporters that can help your organisation achieve their aims. Lastly, I believe it’s key to have a good set of ways of articulating what you have to offer – from straplines through to one-page documents to full business plans. And ensuring that you share that information in a range of accessible media.

How do you think Premises Ready has helped you move forward with your project?
The programme has definitely allowed me to gain a better understanding of the role of The Mayors Office in helping cultural and arts organisations secure premises. It has also helped me to stress-test our existing plans and to examine our current position against an ideal scenario.

Follow The Cinema Museum on social media:

Facebook: TheCinemaMuseum
Twitter: CinemaMuseum