August Update


As we approach the end of our first month running the Town Hall, just a quick note to update you.

Although August is not a particularly busy month for bookings, we have nevertheless hosted a wedding, the Elgin BID Food and Drink Festival (because of the weather) and, we’ll finish off the month with the splendid “Spirit of Speyside: Distilled 2018” on the 30th and 31st.

We then enter the month of September and bookings start to pick up again. As we made clear from the outset, we will not just take bookings but will also go looking to attract bookings and to bring new performers to Elgin. You can already see evidence of the fruits of this direct approach on our website with much more to follow soon.

If you would like to make suggestions of other performers that you’d like to see at the Town Hall please let us know, we’ll do our best to act on these within reason.

We’re working hard on the development of an online booking system and will let you know when this goes ‘live’. This will make it much easier for you to book the facility that you want, when you want it, at your convenience.

The Hall Board is desperately keen to grow our membership base (it is the members who we are answerable to), it remains quite low at the present time. If you’re interested, there’s a downloadable printable registration form available on our website that makes joining easy and straightforward.

We are also keen to make some minor changes to the Hall but are limited to what we can do. However, we will certainly improve the Hall’s appearance to the best of our ability.

You might be aware of the “Cultural Quarter” that forms part of the “Moray Growth Deal”. We are now involved in this and hope that the Town Hall might emerge refurbished, modernised and of the highest quality. Many other places in Scotland are already able to take this for granted but we will have to wait a bit longer.

I previously thanked the community for having made it possible for us to take over the Hall on 1st August by donating money. Funding will remain a top priority for the Board in the coming months as we will lose the funding support being provided by the Council in January 2019.

One way in which we will compensating for that is by staging occasional concerts that are principally about raising money for ourselves. The first of these fundraisers will be held on Saturday 20th October and has been styled “Back from the Brink”.

I take it that this inspired choice of words will not require any explanation!!

Hope that you’ve found this to be useful. Please get in touch if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

Thanks and best wishes.

Elgin Town Hall for the Community

Update 28th June

The Elgin Town Hall for the Community Working Group has continued to ‘pull out all the stops’, supported well by the Council’s Community Support Unit, with a view to taking over the running of the Hall from 2nd July.

Although considerable further progress has been made during the last two weeks, we have basically run out of time to get everything in place that is required of us before we could take the keys next week.

It nevertheless remains the case that the members of the Working Group have done a remarkable job in getting us so close to achieving this goal, in less than 4 months, and they deserve our praise and gratitude.

Given this spirit and commitment, the Working Group is firmly resolved to carry on driving things forward and would hope to reach agreement with the Council early in July, with a view to taking on the Hall from 1st August.

Significantly, I understand that the Council has, today, agreed to keep the Hall open, meantime, and we take that as a vote of confidence in what has already been achieved.

This decision should also provide some reassurance to those who have Bookings and who remain concerned that these might not be honoured. No one, seriously, wants the Hall to close.

We will continue to provide updates and would very much welcome any questions or comments that you might have.

Thanks and best wishes.

Mike Devenney
Elgin Town Hall for the Community Working Group

Update 15th June

Just picking up on Sarah Rollo’s very good article in today’s Northern Scot on Elgin Town Hall and to update you on where we have got to in respect of our potential role.
Both the Elgin Town Hall for the Community Working Group and Moray Council are doing everything possible to try and get to a point on final agreement before the 30th June deadline.
If this is arrived at, it is still possible that the Hall will remain open from 1st July and under community control.
I will ensure that you will all share in the news of what is finally agreed as soon as it happens.
Thanks for your patience and continuing support.

Mike Devenney
Elgin Town Hall for the Community Working Group

Motorfun Fundraising

Members of our board were out at Elgin Rotary’s Motorfun event a week ago pictured with Stormtroopers, we raised funds for the initial operating costs of the hall. A big thanks to the board members for taking the time to fundraise.

51 days to go and counting!

If you like your communications to be brief and to the point, and have no plans to read everything that follows, “we’re getting there, slowly but surely” might best characterise where we find ourselves now as a Working Group!

The reference to 51 days is because these will take us to 30th June, when the Council intends to “mothball” Halls where it has been unable to negotiate a lease arrangement with a community group.

With this terrible prospect in mind, be in absolutely no doubt that the Elgin Town Hall for the Community Working Group is doing everything that it possibly can to ensure that Elgin Town Hall is not closed for a single day, never mind for good.

That we are able to believe that we should be ready to take possession of the keys on 1st July, speaks volumes for the passion and determination of a group of (now 12) volunteers who hadn’t even met until the last days of February.

With the exception of one fundamental issue, relating to how the Council intends to release the funding that has been earmarked to help us get under way, we are working well with the relevant Council staff across a sizeable range of issues and we sense a real degree of urgency on their part. The issue of the “Growth Deal” highlighted by the P&J today is but a sideshow in comparison to many other issues (and we have never “pleaded” as the sensationalist headline claims).

The Working Group firmly believes that the outstanding issue relating to funding can be resolved if a pragmatic and imaginative approach is taken by the Council.

At our AGM last night, the now 12 members of the Working Group have become Directors of the Company (that we’ve had to set up) and it was agreed that the current Company name of “Lantern of the North” should be changed to “Elgin Town Hall for the Community”. This was done given the confusion that was being reported to us as we tried to operate with two names (albeit for somewhat different purposes).

It should be said if it wasn’t for “Lantern’s” Directors taking the initiative in calling a public meeting in January (well before the Council decision to close the Halls on 14th February), it is doubtful that we would be anywhere near where we are today and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

We are slowly but surely building our base of members but could do with many more. If we are to be truly an organisation that is “working for and answerable to the community” then we need more people involved and holding us to account. I would encourage you to join.

As any of the changes to the way that funding is disbursed might require full Council approval at its 6th June meeting, you can appreciate that things might go `down to the wire`. However, the Working Group is ready and willing to work away at this, however long it takes, with the `prize` being a handover to us by the Council on 1st July.

Recent events such as “Joseph” and the contact that is now being made with us from people across the UK, who have bookings from 1st July, but no current guarantee that these will be honoured, just underscores the necessity of the Town Hall, both in social and economic terms. We just cannot let closure of the Hall happen.

Thanks for your continuing support and let’s all hope that the next update will bring confirmation that the lease has been signed and that the community will indeed be running Elgin Town Hall from July 2018.

Best wishes.

Mike Devenney
Elgin Town Hall for the Community Working Group