I hope most if not all Guardian readers are familiar with The Dukes since it has been operating continuously from its Moor Lane base since 1971? I would be surprised, however, if everyone knew we are a registered charity.
Now that doesn’t mean being ‘a charity case’. The Charity Commission which regulates charities places a duty for the Board Members (Trustees) to ensure the charity is well managed. And to do this we need to be business-like.
Some may think this is contradictory but all my experience prior to arriving at The Dukes in September has been working for business-like charities (like the Royal Exchange in Manchester or Sadler’s Wells in London). The Dukes currently earns over two-thirds of its income – through ticket sales, bar sales, merchandise, hires and people joining our Friends scheme - and in times of austerity we need to be even more business-like in diversifying sources of income and investment. And all this supports our work that is less visible: creative sessions for young people aged 7 – 24 or disadvantaged groups who may not otherwise access training or experience live events.
As well as being ‘business-like’ in how we deliver our charitable mission, The Dukes is also one of Lancaster’s medium scale businesses. A 2010 independent economic impact study across the partnership of the seven main arts organisations in Lancaster showed we contributed £7.5million to the local economy. Within that figure, The Dukes’ value to the local economy was £3.375m supporting 89 jobs.
Given the growth in The Dukes’ activities since then our estimate is of an economic contribution in 2014/15 in the order of £5.3m supporting the full-time equivalent of 105 jobs. That’s a lot of economic output for a charity delivering ‘the soft stuff’.
I’m new to Lancaster but I look forward to working with fellow local businesses to continue to find ways to deliver economic return and jobs as well as our charitable mission as we work together to battle out of recession.