Welcome to our Spring St James Newsletter which supplements the Quarter 2/2022 diary, that will be delivered to every household in the coming days. If you do not receive your diary or would like another one, further copies are available from St James and at many locations around the Island. The details are also on our website at www.stjames.gg.
In this diary there really is something for everyone, from the traditional Liberation Day concert with Festiva to a Motorcycle Show with a focus on competition machinery, and with many musical and comedy events to entice you as well. New for this Diary is the launch of our monthly St James Club Nights. Building on the success of our Studio 54 shows, every month we will be turning St James into a multi-room, multi-bar entertainment venue where the ticket price will give access to all areas, including cocktails and tapas served upstairs at Local & Wild. Find out more on the website at stjames.gg/clubnights
Also new is our evening of Magic, which promises to be a super event.
Finally, in another first for St James, we will be hosting the long running BBC Radio 4 show, Any Questions? on Friday 10th June. While the final details are still being worked out, this promises to be a special evening and an opportunity to put Guernsey on the national map.
With the caution about mingling in large groups and the States’ restrictions as a result of the Omicron Covid variant, we saw many of our events cancelled in the run up to Christmas and into the New Year, together with much reduced audiences for those events which did go ahead. We are sorry if you were not able to enjoy your usual favourite Christmas shows, but both we and our hirers felt it imperative to follow States guidance and to be suitably cautious in our approach.
Happily, mandatory restrictions have now been removed as we return towards normality. However, we are continuing with our programme of enhanced cleaning and having sanitisers available around the premises in order to follow current guidelines.
While we normally rely upon a busy Quarter 4 to help bring us towards a breakeven position, this was not possible in 2021 and, coupled with the lockdown early in that year requiring us to remain closed, we are facing a substantial deficit for 2021. This has unfortunately continued into Quarter 1 of 2022, when we have continued to see cancellations and reduced audiences for the events which continued.
Even without these Covid related issues, we had been struggling to balance our books, given that we do rely upon a modest annual grant from the States which has not been increased for more than twenty years, even though all our expenditure has been subject to increased costs during that time. While we did approach the States last year to review our annual grant, this request has recently been turned down, on the basis that there is no scope for an increase within the States budgetary constraints.
As a result, the St James Board has been reviewing all options, since trading at a loss is not an option, given the slim reserves now remaining after some very difficult Covid years. We have concluded that we will need to increase the number of higher income weekend commercial events and move some of the lower income community events away from these weekends in order to create this capacity. Discussions are ongoing with the hirers who would be impacted by this change.
Grants and Donations
St James is also seeking funding from other grant making bodies and foundations and is identifying corporate sponsorship opportunities. Donations and subscriptions from individuals are also very welcome. If you are not yet a St James member, or know someone who would like to join, please do get in touch with us. Membership costs as little as £25 per annum and comes with several member benefits. Full details of the benefits of membership are on our website at www.stjames.gg/join-us. Additional donations to help us keep St James open and remain a vibrant part of the Guernsey community are also much appreciated.
Grants from the St James Jubilee Foundation
We are pleased to report that the St James Jubilee Foundation has made a generous grant to St James to cover the cost of the renovation of the organ and the piano and also the necessary changes to our emergency lighting and fire exits needed to meet the requirements of our Salle Publique Licence.
The Jubilee Foundation was established to provide long term support to St James and to help develop its artistic and cultural work. It welcomes regular and one-off donations as well as commitments to remember St James as a beneficiary of your will. Further details are available on the website or from Stephen Ainsworth who, as well as being President of St James, is also a Trustee of the Jubilee Foundation.
Local & Wild
We are delighted that the Café has reopened under new management with James and Nathalia Manger, who some of you will already be familiar with as they ran Time & Tide in Sark very successfully for the last two seasons. James is our Chef, while Nathalia is our Front of House Restaurant Manager.
The Café is now trading as Local & Wild, which epitomises the range of menu options. If you have not yet visited, you will be in for a real treat when you do.
Local & Wild is open for coffee and lunch on Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to 2 pm and is also offering pre-show dinners and a tapas menu when there are evening café events. It is also available for private events and for corporate socials.
Further details are on our website at stjames.gg/localnwild and bookings can be made by calling 714175 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annual General Meeting
November marked our Annual General Meeting when our President, Treasurer and Executive Director gave their reports for the year.
As President, Stephen Ainsworth reported that 2021 had been another challenging year with the second lockdown at the start of the year, and the inability to bring in off Island performers until the final Quarter. However, the enforced closure did enable the major renovations both in the Hall and in the Dorey Centre to be completed, so that St James was no longer trying to put on events in the midst of a building site. Stephen expressed his appreciation for the hard work of Jon Bisson and his team, and for remaining enthusiastic even when the requirements changed – sometimes daily.
Jon Bisson then described the challenges of 2021 from an Executive Director’s perspective and the continued development of the vision of having three distinct fully equipped event spaces within the building capable of holding a wide variety of events with minimal set up. This helps St James to reduce staff hours and to run several events simultaneously in the building. Key to this was a successful café and Jon gave details of the exciting new developments (covered separately in this Newsletter).
Claire Savage then presented her report as Treasurer. She noted that St James had generated a small surplus during 2020 despite the Covid closure, as a result of grants and donations from the States of Guernsey, the Social Investment Fund, the St James Jubilee Foundation and other foundations and private individuals.
The meeting then continued by adopting the previously announced changes to the Articles of Association enabling more than one Vice President to be appointed.
Following that change, Stephen Ainsworth has been re-elected as President, while Kate Rabey and Merise Wheatley have been appointed as Vice Presidents, following Gill Freeman’s retirement at the end of her term of office. Stephen Ainsworth expressed appreciation to Gill for all her support during her term as Vice President.
Claire Savage an Emma Hodge continue as Honorary Treasurer and Honorary Secretary respectively.
The meeting then re-elected Kate Rabey and Rob Roussel as continuing Council Members, and David Aslett and Gill Freeman as new Council Members.
Stephen Ainsworth concluded by thanking Richard Mahy, who was stepping down from the Board, and Tim Wright, who was stepping down from the Council, together with all volunteer Council Members, Duty Managers, Stewards and Box Officers for their ongoing support to enable St James to remain as successful as it has been.
We are looking forward to seeing you soon at St James!