Money Matters – How the Albany earns and spends its income

by CEO & Artistic Director Gavin Barlow

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about transparency in the arts, and how venues could work better with artists. As part of that I promised the Albany would publish an explanation or how our finances work.

We made a few discoveries along the way, not least how much money finds its way directly to artists. It also reveals that the way we operate generates a lot more income for artistic work than we get from the Arts Council – for every £1 they give us, we spend £5 on the artistic programme.

I’m aware that figures could be presented in different ways, but I’ve kept it simple, so everyone can see beyond the published accounts and understand what decisions are made with the money we have.

So, based on our budget for 2018/19, here goes.


Our Income


Our total projected income for the year is £2,770,000.

We get core funding from:

  • Arts Council England – £176k a year, confirmed till 2022 as a National Portfolio Organisation, this accounts for 6% of our total income
  • Lewisham Council – core funding of £188k a year (7% of total income). This has been reduced by around 30% in the last few years and is up for review this year. It should be noted that this funding is essentially for the Albany as a community resource rather than solely as an arts organisation.

We expect to generate £369k (13%) additional income from fundraising during the year, and most of this will be spent on specific creative projects. £140k of this comes from our partnership with local housing provider Lewisham Homes to provide creative engagement across our home borough. £79k comes from Lewisham Council to support the Meet Me at the Albany project for isolated older people. We expect to earn another £150k by applying for grants, or getting donations, such as through our A Theatre Trip for Every Child Campaign.

The Albany has contracts with Lewisham and Southwark Council to manage two other cultural and community facilities – Deptford Lounge and Canada Water Theatre. We expect to earn a total of £707k (26% of total) this year from these contracts (including from hiring spaces within each building). Most of that income goes on managing the buildings and delivering the agreed services – though we do have an arrangement where we can reinvest any additional earnings from hires into the cultural programme at each venue.

There are two (mainly) autonomous projects which sit within the Albany – Fun Palaces and the Family Arts Campaign. In total these will generate £411k during the year (15% of income) which will be spent directly on delivering the projects.

We hire out spaces in the Albany building – theatre, meeting/rehearsal rooms and offices (for 26 resident organisations). In total we will earn £395k from this (14% of income).

The cafes across sites generate £335k income (12% of the total) but all of this is spent on delivering the service – that’s the subject of a whole other blog but it helps explain why we can still offer cups of tea for £1.

We try and keep ticket prices at a reasonable level, and many of our programmes are free or very low cost (e.g. for young people, Meet Me at the Albany, outdoor summer events). Income from ticket sales is £161k (6% of income).


How we spend it


We have a break even budget projected for the year. Our direct costs for the artistic programme are £539k a year (including marketing spend), which is 19% of the total. A large proportion of that goes directly to artists – but more of that later.

The team directly delivering that programme is the ten people who make up the creative programmes, production/technical and marketing teams – they cost a total of £316k (11% the total). That makes a total of £855k spent directly on the artistic programme.

In terms of other staff, a total of £515k (19% of the total) is spent on:

  • The team made up of my role (CEO/Artistic Director), Chief Operating Officer, and the finance and admin teams costing £242k.
  • The operations and premises team for the Albany building – including Duty Managers, cleaners and the Box Office/Reception costing £164k.
  • The team leading on fundraising and business development/hires across all three buildings costing £109k.

We’ve reduced building and administration costs consistently over recent years. Our building costs for the Albany itself – from maintenance to utility bills – will be £116k this year. Our total administration and finance costs – from insurance and bank charges to phones and stationery – are £73k. That adds up to 189k (7% of the total).

The remainder is spent on managing Deptford Lounge and Canada Water Theatre, delivering Fun Palaces, the Family Arts Campaign and the cafe service – as well as some for depreciation, contingencies etc.


What does that mean for artists?

As the starting point for this was looking at how venues work with artists, I thought it would be useful to work out how much money will be paid directly to artists from this budget – it’s the first time we’ve calculated it in this way – and it adds up to £285k in total, in addition to the £30k plus of free space we offer on an annual basis (£315k in total).

Probably the most useful comparison for that figure of £315k (cash and in kind) for artists is against the income for the Albany from the Arts Council (£176k) and from ticket sales (£161k). I think that stacks up pretty well?

There are other ways of looking at this of course, and many ways we could change how the organisation works, based on a realistic look at the figures. We’re open to having that conversation. My immediate thought is that we may well be spreading the money for artists too thinly, working with lots of artists but not making enough difference with the resources we have. At the other end of the scale, what would it look like if we used the Arts Council money to say, employ 6 artists full time for a year? I wonder how that might also work for audiences and participants?

As with the last blog, I hope a number of artists will comment. We’d really like feedback and to know if this is useful. I suspect, as last time, venues (apart from ARC Stockton) will mostly be silent. Isn’t it time we were all – funders, venues and artists – a little more transparent?


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Being Business Development Manager, Q&A with Rob Fellman

It wasn’t the end, we have another blog! This week we’re talking to Business Development Manager Rob Fellman, enjoy…

  1. How would you describe your job?

My job is perhaps seen as being on the less glamorous side of Theatre, but is far from it! I have the daily privilege of speaking with and meeting people from all walks of life, from aspiring theatre companies to business executives, and from band promoters to yoga instructors – you never know who might want to connect with the organisation and to make use of the services we offer. Business Development is ultimately about supporting the charitable aims of the organisation through nurturing relationships that eventually generate financial income. We have a very unique product in that we have amazing spaces, complete with an expert team that love running performances and events and taking on challenges. Besides this we also have offices that we rent out to local charities, a great catering service, and can even offer advice and support services to smaller organisations. My role looks after quite a broad remit, but ultimately it all comes down to building relationships with people, and acting as a representative on behalf of the Albany team.

  1. How did you get into the arts, and this particular career?

I actually studied Drama at university, and spent some time as an actor after that. I had always worked while I took acting roles, and since before university I had always enjoyed the face-to-face interaction of sales and retail roles. My first ‘proper’ job was working in Diplomatic and Military Sales for an Automotive company, and then moved into Corporate Sales – this was an incredible experience, and it taught me a huge amount about how to deal with various types of people from different sectors. I also spent some time on courses designed to teach about sales processes, and about customer service. As an actor, learning these practical and interpersonal skills came quite naturally and I really enjoyed this aspect of the job. From there, I decided consciously that I wanted to take this skillset and to apply it to the Arts sector, as I really wanted to be able to support the industry that I love.

  1. What do you like the most about your job?

The best thing about my job is seeing successful events happen, and getting feedback from happy producers and events organisers. So much goes into the running of theatre shows, conference, gigs etc, that the best thing anyone can say to me is: “your team made this whole thing really easy!”

  1. What is the trickiest part of your job?

The trickiest part of the job is making sure that both our team, and our customers and partners understand each other, and that all of the details of an event, booking or partnership are correct. With any work around delivering a service, there is always an element of ‘managing expectations’ – making sure everyone understands what the service needs to be, and what is possible within time and money restrictions.

  1. Do you have any advice for others who want to pursue similar careers?

Don’t underestimate the ‘background’ jobs within the Arts sector. There is real value in being specific in your skillset, and finding your niche; many organisations are diversifying the types of work they do. Jobs like Administration, Development, and Operations are so good for giving you an overview of how venues function; even if you fancy yourself as a Programmer, Marketer or a Producer, a broad understanding of the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ will be so valuable in the early stages of your career.

Thanks Rob!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Being Bookings Coordinator, Q&A with Lilly Hannell

Here is our last (at the moment anyway 🙂 ) blog providing an insight into the careers of some of our most experienced members of staff at the Albany. This week we’re talking to Booking Coordinator Lilly Hannell. Lilly is the first point of call for all hire enquiries, responsible for hire contracts and scheduling everything in…

How would you describe your job?

How did you get into the arts, and this particular career?
I always loved theatre so started working for an Actors Agent, and then because of that experience I got a job at the Birmingham Rep. I left the arts for a while but missed it too much and got a job at the Albany.

What do you like the most about your job?
I like my work colleagues, the flexible working hours and the fact we have a large garden.

What is the trickiest part of your job?
Dealing with the amount of enquiries and the level of hand holding people require just to book a room. It can often take from between 2 and 4 emails (on occasion more) to get someone to give you all the information you need, and then they end up changing their booking anyway.

Do you have any advice for others who want to pursue similar careers?
Be sure you love what you do, working in the arts doesn’t pay a lot and the working hours are often long. Job descriptions can be fuzzy at best and you always end up doing more than you’re meant to.

Thanks Lilly!

From the 9th to the 12th May the Albany will be hosting 8 performances by young people as part of The National Theatre Connections festival. They will be performing plays that were commissioned by the National Theatre specifically for young people to perform. To find out more click here.

To find out about some of our other work and opportunities for young people click here. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Being Head of Marketing and Communications, Q&A with Kate Farrell

Next week the Albany will be playing host eight young people’s theatre group performing some of the ten plays which the National Theatre had specifically commissioned to be performed by young people as part of the NT Connections festival.

We think that it’s great that these talented individuals are being given the opportunity to perform in in a professional environment, and we want to aid the next generation as much as possible in their attempts to break into the often competitive arts industry. In this spirit here is our third interview with individuals holding senior positions within our organisation, Kate Farrell, Head of Marketing and Communications…

How would you describe your job?
I am head of Marketing and Communications at the Albany. That means I oversee the marketing and box office teams and, as a team, we manage all of the marketing, press and PR activity for our programme of shows and events, participatory projects, space hire and cafes. We also support ad hoc projects with marketing activity and do profile raising work for the organisation as a whole and look after the organisations’ websites and social media feeds.  I tend to lead on coming up with our strategies for marketing and communications in-line with our business plan and I also get to lead bigger projects like designing and building a new website and deciding messaging / the approach to marketing things like our A Theatre Trip for Every Child

How did you get into the arts, and this particular career?
I knew I wanted to work in theatre because it I loved watching live performance of all types and because participation has had a massive impact on my confidence and wellbeing from a young age. I applied for a job answering complaint letters and doing admin at The Lowry when I finished university. My desk was in the marketing department and when I wasn’t replying to people’s letters (that’s right, I am so old most people WROTE IN to complain) about our Espresso’s being too small (a real complaint), I was lucky enough to pitch in on a few low level PR and marketing tasks. That, combined with figuring out what my strengths were, led me to decide arts marketing could be a great fit. Then a job in the media team at Sheffield Theatres came up so I applied because I’d been to see a show there and to visit friends at uni and I loved the city and the theatre. More jobs, cities and amazing experiences followed and now I’ve been working in arts marketing for over 15 years.

What do you like the most about your job?
That I am working in an industry I love to promote it and encourage others to enjoy it. I also love the variety of what I get to do – two days are rarely the same and I am almost never bored. (If I am it is usually by admin like checking through all of our financial transactions and budget codes). Finally, I work with a great bunch of people and sometimes I GET PAID to watch amazing theatre, dance and circus shows.

What is the trickiest part of your job?
The volume of work – we’re ambitious to always grow our organisation, reach more people and do better so we tend to be working on lots of things at once and working hard all year round.

Do you have any advice for others who want to pursue similar careers?
If it’s the sector you love then apply for anything at entry level – making connections with organisation and getting to see what jobs are available and figure out what you’re good out is key.  Only do it if you love the industry and being part of it will make you happy – evenings and weekends come as standard and 8 hour days aren’t always the norm. There are definitely more lucrative careers in marketing and PR but if your priority is to work in the arts rather than in marketing and you have the skills to match, you’ll have an amazing time.

Thanks Kate!

From the 9th to the 12th May the Albany will be hosting 8 performances by young people as part of The National Theatre Connections festival. They will be performing plays that were commissioned by the National Theatre specifically for young people to perform. To find out more click here.

To find out about some of our other work and opportunities for young people click here. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized