Trust finishes 2019/20 in strong position ready for post-Covid challenges

11 Feb 2021 | News Story

ANGUSalive has published its annual report for 2019-20, highlighting the Trust’s operational and financial achievements, prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Highlights included an innovative partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support to launch the Move More project developed to help people living with and beyond cancer in Angus to become more physically active. 

There was also the much anticipated opening of new exhibition spaces at the Signal Tower Museum in Arbroath and the arrival of Isla and Glen who were unveiled as the new mobile libraries, continuing the very popular service to all corners of the county.

The Webster Theatre in Arbroath presented a varied programme of events for the community’s enjoyment and entertainment. From children’s activities, dance performances, DJ sets, stand-up comedy to all forms of music concerts, The Webster continued to establish itself as one of the ANGUSalive’s most popular venues.

Monikie and Crombie country parks are also an essential part of the charity’s offering to the Angus community and beyond. Both parks again proved to be extremely popular for those wanting to benefit from multiple activities in the great outdoors.

The popularity of all the venues and locations was reflected by the 2.4 million visitors who came through the doors and gates in 2019-20.

The successes of the services that ANGUSalive provides across leisure, sport and culture were also highlighted in the financial achievements that resulted in an operational surplus of just over £450,000.  There was also a balance of £1.6 million carried forward as unrestricted reserves to allow for unpredicted circumstances.

The decision was taken by the Board at the end of the 2019-20, just as the pandemic was emerging, to ensure the maximum level of reserve would be available to meet the unforeseen challenges of the pandemic. The full operational surplus was added to the unrestricted reserve and no contribution made to the development fund.

Starting from nothing when ANGUSalive was formed in December 2015, annual contributions have been made to the Development Fund to ensure future and sustained investment in equipment.  The Development Fund balance of £945,000 at the 2019-20 year-end provides numerous options for the charity to deal with the transition from Covid to post Covid and be ready to begin services for the local community when it is safe.

ANGUSalive Chairperson, Kenneth Fraser, said: “The fact that we have been able to generate reserves over the past five years and finish 2019-20 in a strong financial position reflects the sustained financial stewardship displayed by the ANGUSalive Board and Senior Management Team.  Our reserves are also an essential requirement to present to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, proving that the Trust continues to be a going concern and is able to operate legally.”

It is likely, however, that the report for the current year, 2020-21 will show a different picture. ANGUSalive, like many other leisure, sport and culture trusts across the country, is experiencing the most challenging period in its history with Covid-19 bringing virtually all services to a standstill.  The Trust closed its doors on 18 March 2020, furloughed many of the workforce and moved as many services online as possible to continue its connection with the local community.

When restrictions began to ease in the later months of 2020, ANGUSalive reopened a selection of services.  The country parks at Monikie and Crombie provided outdoor activities, October holiday events for children and hosted a drive-in country music concert.

A click and collect service, along with limited browsing, were offered by the charity’s libraries and all sports centres were open again, subject still to necessary restrictions, from mid-September. Arbroath’s Signal Tower Museum welcomed visitors from October 2020, but all services had to close from Christmas Eve due to an escalation of the pandemic.

ANGUSalive Chief Executive, Kirsty Hunter added: “There is no doubt the Covid-19 pandemic has and continues to have a detrimental effect on our ability to operate services and generate income.

“The current financial year’s performance (2020-21) will be very different due to the pandemic and our ability to programme and operate as normal remains severely impacted.

“In the current global pandemic, ANGUSalive’s vision of changing lives by inspiring healthy, active and creative lifestyle choices resonates more strongly than ever with the emphasis on supporting the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the nation through and beyond this public health emergency.

“The focus ahead has to be on ensuring we are nimble and can adapt to what will be a new operating environment. Things won’t be returning to normal anytime soon, therefore we must look at innovative ways to offer our services to the local community and visitors. This includes looking at programming more outdoor and digital activities. Recently we launched a new app for live streaming exercise classes which is proving popular and there are more developments in the pipeline. 

“The trust has an important role in providing culture, sport and leisure services to the local community but also in contributing economically and socially to Angus. All of our team are looking forward to welcoming everyone to get healthy, active and creative with us when we can safely reopen our doors.”

You can read more on the 2019-20 ANGUSalive annual report at www.angusalive.scot and via the following link https://www.angusalive.scot/about-us/reports-policies/