PETER SWAN: Now we’re going to talk about Cambridge Live, the new organisation that’s going to run City Council’s cultural events and services. It’s a not-for-profit organisation. It’s going to run cultural venues and events like the Cambridge Folk Festival as well. Sara Garnham is the Founding Chair of Cambridge Live and joins us on the show now. So I guess we ought to start with: what was the system that Cambridge Live has replaced?
SARA GARNHAM: Peter, Cambridge Live has replaced services that were directly provided by Cambridge City Council. With the budget cuts at the moment, the Council were very concerned that their excellent provision, which includes everything from free events like the Fireworks next week through to international events like the Folk Festival, and then lots of things at the Corn Exchange and the Guildhall, were going to come under pressure, because obviously there were lots of calls on their money these days. And they wanted to make sure that there was a sustainable future for all of that development. The team delivered the amazing Tour de France weekend this year. They do the Big Weekend Out, tea dances in the Guildhall, lots and lots of ways that 300,000 get involved with events in the course of the year. And it was very important to them that that carried on.
PETER SWAN: And Cambridge Live is seen as the best possible way of making use of the resources that you’ve got?
SARA GARNHAM: Well the Council looked very hard to decide what was the way forward that would guarantee accessibility and inclusion, and also excellence. And it was decided that moving these services out into a not-for-profit organisation, a charity with a board of trustees with the existing staff team, would be the way to guarantee that local people, and those travelling internationally to the Folk Festival for example, would still be able to participate in these events.
PETER SWAN: Now you’ve mentioned many of the things that you do there. Are you able to give us a specific example of how Cambridge Live as an organisation is going to improve how some of these things are delivered?
SARA GARNHAM: Well Cambridge Live doesn’t come into existence until 1st April next year. We got the approval at a key Council meeting last Monday, with members signing off the way it was going to be set up. So we’re really in our planning phase now, and the first thing that we’re going to be doing is recruiting that board of trustees to give the strategic direction and leadership. There are lots of things that are really really good about the services that are delivered, and it’s not a case of ‘this is a broken service and we need to change it.’ It’s a way of sustaining it and helping it grow for the future; maybe more events, perhaps slightly different events, and possibly new events for local people to get involved with.
PETER SWAN: And of course an important aspect of what you do in terms of events is perhaps relative to some of the other services the Council provides. The benefits and the impacts aren’t perhaps quite so clear compared with the money that goes in. But it’s hugely important, isn’t it, when you think 25,000 are coming into town to watch the Fireworks. Fireworks may sound like a simple thing, but then that’s people who aren’t trying to do it in their wheelbarrow at home, getting the ambulance out and just .. it’s amazing how what seems like a simple event can have big benefits.
SARA GARNHAM: That’s absolutely right. You’re absolutely right to stress the safety aspect. And it’s great to be part of a big crowd on a clear night, seeing the wonderful fireworks that go up. And last night I was at the Corn Exchange, which was featuring Sing-a-long-a Frozen. Lots and lots of children, engaging and taking part in theatre-type activity, which sadly gets squeezed out of school curriculums and off lots of people’s agendas these days. So it is really really important, and engaging in music and culture is incredibly moving and uplifting. Like the reaction to songs on your show, it’s just that feel-good factor that’s an important part of life.
PETER SWAN: And just quickly, because we need to move on, you mentioned the Tour de France there. I imagine everyone still incredibly proud of how that panned out. Because everyone knew it was going to be good, but it ended up being really good.
SARA GARNHAM: It ended up being absolutely amazing. The team did a great job, and I hope that’s going to be one reason why it’s going to be really easy to recruit trustees to join the board, and help take this organisation forward in the future. And that’s what we’re doing at the moment, recruiting those trustees.
PETER SWAN: Brilliant! Well thanks a lot for joining us on the show, and best of luck with all of that work over the coming months as well.
SARA GARNHAM: Thanks very much Peter.