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Exploring different ways of running the council's cultural services

Swansea Council is looking to explore alternative ways of running its cultural services as part of its drive to make services in Swansea sustainable in future.

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Subject to Cabinet's approval, the council will explore a number of options for delivering free access cultural facilities, paid-for cultural facilities and other cultural services differently.

Options include testing the environment to seek interest from third parties, including not-for-profit and community-based companies and organisations, in taking over the running of a number of facilities. Invest to save proposals and opportunities to generate more income could also be considered for some cultural services.

The proposal is part of the council's Sustainable Swansea: Fit for the Future transformational programme that's guiding how the council goes about becoming more streamlined to tackle a major funding deficit. 

Cllr Mark Child, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Healthy City and Wellbeing, said: "Over the last two years or so the council has made savings of around £50m through a range of measures, including cutting down on management and back office costs, but there is still a lot more to do. Central Government and Welsh Government have made it clear austerity will continue and it's being predicted that, due to increased pressure on services and reduced funding, we can expect to have to make savings of about £100m in the next few years.

"Like many other services, it's clear we now have to look at alternative ways of running our cultural and recreational services to help protect them and prioritise the resources we do have on vital services like education and social care.

"But we don't want to stop any services, so the next step is to start a conversation with other leisure and arts businesses and organisations to see if they can run our services for less than it costs us. We're especially keen on speaking to existing not-for-profit organisations that may be able to bring investment to improve our buildings and services, working in partnership with the council to secure the best outcomes for residents and visitors. We'll also be looking to talk to our communities about what they can do because not all of all our cultural services will be of interest to existing businesses. This could lead to the establishment of new groups or our help in supporting communities to set up companies like trusts. For other services, we'll be considering invest to save proposals or the chance to generate more income.

"We'll involve user groups, staff, customers and all other interested parties along the way to be clear about the need for these conversations and how our cultural services could look in future. Further proposals will come back to Cabinet for consideration in future once we've tested the marketplace and spoken to our communities and residents. This isn't about shutting services down - it's about finding new, innovative methods of delivery to save them for the benefit of Swansea residents and visitors."

Options for the future delivery of the library service will be considered in a separate report due for consideration in coming months.

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