Save ‘nationally important’ Priory Visitor Centre, says UK expert

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Re: Save ‘nationally important’ Priory Visitor Centre, says UK expert

Postby dutchman » Thu Jul 21, 2016 5:25 pm

Bidder chosen to re-open ‘city’s birthplace’ venue

THE re-opening of the ‘internationally important’ Lady Godiva-founded Priory Visitor Centre (PVC) has moved a step closer following the Observer’s campaign – with the selection of an organisation to step in and run it.

We have learned ‘Inspiring Communities’ led by local businesswoman Carole Donnelly has won the council’s bidding process to take over the home to the remains of the city’s 1,000-year-old first cathedral and priory, closed to the world in February in Coventry City Council cuts.

It is understood Ms Donnelly and Inspiring Communities beat one other bid to become the ‘preferred bidder’.

The historic tourist venue’s re-opening in expected this autumn once further legal work is completed and a formal decision is taken by the cabinet member for community development, councillor Linda Bigham.

Ms Donnelly told us her winning bid proposed a model which would see the venue run as a social enterprise, with other social enterprise businesses operating cultural and other activities from the multi-purpose venue.

She revealed her bid proposed five categories for what the re-opened venue in its prime city centre Priory Place location will offer – history; tourism; education (promoting the city’s mediaeval story to future generations); a community space (including for a multi-faith group which currently uses the function room); and ‘health and wellbeing’ (including yoga and other classes, and a healthy eating cafe).

Ms Donnelly said it will initially run on the three-year lease on which bidders were invited to bid, which had raised concerns about the venue’s long-term sustainability.

She added: “We will look to negotiate a sustainable long-term solution with the cathedral as freeholder and the council (the lessee) to make sure it’s a strong sustainable business going forward.”

She added the bid had the backing of the Coventry University Social Enterprise Club, which is providing support over the business model; and preservation group the Coventry Society which might also provide volunteers.

Jobs and apprenticeships would be created by the various social enterprises, she added. Bids for funding could be made to the Lottery and other organisations.

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I was there a couple of weeks ago and the space in front of the office had become a hangout for druggies and winos.
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Re: Save ‘nationally important’ Priory Visitor Centre, says UK expert

Postby dutchman » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:08 pm

Lady Godiva-founded venue to re-open next month after campaign

THE ‘internationally important’ Lady Godiva-founded Priory Visitor Centre (PVC) will finally re-open its doors to the world next month following its closure from council cuts and the Observer’s savethepriory campaign.

The organisation selected by the council as its preferred bidder to step in and run it as a social enterprise – called Inspiring Communities – has announced it will re-open the city centre venue, in Priory Place, on September 10 and 11 as part of the city’s Heritage weekend.

Inspiring Communities’ Carole Donnelly said it would be a taster of what is to come for the centre, home to the remains of the city’s 1,000-year-old first cathedral and priory, which closed in February. She added visitors during the annual Heritage weekend – when lots of the city’s historic sites open their doors – will also be able to have their say with a questionnaire on what activities they want at the venue in future.

There will be a tour of the undercrofts and people interested in volunteering to help run the centre are also encouraged to go along. A long overdue Priory Visitor Centre Facebook page has now been set up and other social media will follow.

The expected permanent re-opening is still some months away because of the legal process of establishing the new three-year lease, and the entire formal takeover is still technically subject to final agreements. The council is not expected to consider completing the process before a cabinet meeting in October.

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Re: Save ‘nationally important’ Priory Visitor Centre, says UK expert

Postby dutchman » Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:23 pm

Priory Visitor Centre take-over gets go-ahead after our campaign

THE ‘internationally important’ venue for the Lady Godiva-founded priory and cathedral considered Coventry’s birthplace has finally been saved following its closure from council cuts and the Observer’s #savethepriory campaign.

The Priory Visitor Centre is now expected to officially re-open six days a week from February 27 after its take over by a non-profit social enterprise organisation was formally approved today.

The re-opening will come precisely a year after the closure to the world of the home to the 1000-year-old remains of the city’s first St Mary’s cathedral and priory – to save around £100,000, half the council chief executive’s salary.

The Observer’s #SaveThePriory campaign had since February called on the council to ensure the venue was re-opened urgently, with community group takeovers being one potential solution.

‘Inspiring Communities’ social enterprise organisation will be the new operator after being previously selected as Coventry City Council’s ‘preferred bidder’ in July.

Legal and technical details concerning the three-year lease arrangements are being completed and the takeover was approved today by cabinet member for community development, Linda Bigham.

It follows a trial re-opening of the tourist and cultural venue in Priory Place for the city’s Heritage weekend earlier this month.

Inspiring Communities’ Carole Donnelly said: “Inspiring Communities are excited to be given the trust and opportunity to reopen the Priory Visitor Centre and Undercroft for the citizens and visitors to Coventry.

“It’s great to see a social enterprise being actively supported by Coventry City Council. Massive thanks to all who have joined in and seen our vision to be part of the City of Culture bid.

“Thank you to the Coventry Observer for keeping the campaign in the forefront of people’s minds.”

Occasional open days before February 27 are being considered and funding bids can now be lodged.

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Re: Save ‘nationally important’ Priory Visitor Centre, says UK expert

Postby dutchman » Thu May 16, 2019 3:35 pm

Priory Visitor Centre set to close - despite housing 'Lady Godiva-founded Coventry's birthplace'

COVENTRY’S historic Priory Visitor Centre is set to close this month – despite being an ‘internationally important’ venue for the Lady Godiva-founded priory and cathedral considered as the city’s birthplace.

The news it is facing being forced to close due to ongoing financial difficulties in a major blow in the run-up to Coventry hosting UK City of Culture in 2021.

It was rescued by a community non-profit social enterprise venture which re-opened it in 2017 – after a year of closure from Coventry City Council cuts and a long Coventry Observer campaign.

We recently reported it had missed out on funding applications to the Big Lottery & ITV Peoples Project Vote.

Now the centre’s operator says: “Coventry Priory CIC have been unable to attract any further funding to help us keep the Priory Visitor Centre open passed the 31st May 2019.

“We have tried a wide variety of avenues to attract additional funding and have barely been able to cover the basic costs of keeping the centre open, never mind paying any staff.

“Unfortunately as we need revenue, funding for Coventry City of Culture 2021 isn’t an option for us.

“Our founding and lead director Carole Donnelly who has always acted in a volunteer capacity has had to take the hard decision to shut the doors again, just two years after reopening when the city council and Culture Coventry closed the doors In February 2016 to save £100’000 per year.

“Carole and the volunteers have worked really hard to make the venue work but with a lack of joined-up support across the city for independents and tourist attractions, lack of funding, poor signage, anti social behaviour, lack of lighting and security which made it difficult to use when dark, coupled with dwindling visitor numbers who were prepared to pay and come back, we have taken the sad decision to close the Priory on the 31st May.

“The £47,000 Lottery funding would have enabled us to build the rest of the cafe, develop the arts and cultural offering that also showcased our unique heritage as the start of Coventry’s journey.

“Our volunteers are devastated and look towards the city council, City of Culture and cathedral to ensure our heritage offering is not lost forever as we approach UK City of Culture 2021.

“All of the volunteers are willing to support an alternative offer from the cathedral to jointly run this amazing facility.

“The Priory has bookings for events until November but without cash flow and the ability to pay a living wage to the centre manager, we are unable to continue as our lease with the council doesn’t allow us to be in debt. ”

Ms Donnelly said “It is with a heavy heart that I need to walk away and close the doors again to the public. As a local entrepreneur who supports many social enterprises in the area, I had to follow the advice I give to others.”

She says she has met with Martin Reeves and senior council staff, but none of the ruling Labour group had contacted her to discuss options.

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Re: Save ‘nationally important’ Priory Visitor Centre, says UK expert

Postby dutchman » Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:50 pm

An area near the Priory Visitor Centre has been spray painted just days after it closed

Part of the walls of Coventry's ruined Priory have been vandalised.

Explicit words have been sprayed across some of the ancient stonework near the recently closed visitor centre.

The wall has been incorporated into the visitor centre and the doorway into the Cloisters.

However this has been defaced, along with the decking outside the visitor centre.

Carole Donnelly, the founding director of the Priory Centre has described it as a shame, and sad that this has been done.

She also said it isn't the first time it had happened.

Carole told CoventryLive: "We were officially closed on May 31, and it looks like it was done over the weekend.

"I was just handing over the keys and saw that on part of the original wall that was incorporated into the Priory Visitor Centre & the doorway into the Cloisters.

"It isn't the first time is has happened, we had a similar thing happen around four weeks ago and we bleached it out.

"They know we have now shut the doors and seem to have taken over.

"It is so sad to see after two years of asking for gates to be put on.

"The council promised that and said they have the funding but it is too late for us now. They need to be put up for the other businesses and flats around there.

"It is so dark, there is no lighting, and is a scary place if coming out the back of Nandos.

"Our centre manager was racially abused there too.

"It is a real shame."

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Re: Save ‘nationally important’ Priory Visitor Centre, says UK expert

Postby rebbonk » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:41 pm

The city of culture!

The only cuilture found in this city is the type usually grown in Petrie dishes.
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Re: Save ‘nationally important’ Priory Visitor Centre, says UK expert

Postby dutchman » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:49 pm

The undercroft was full of druggies and winos lat time I was there. Likewise every other stone ruin in the city.
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