An update on how Woolwich Works is operating is set to be heard by Greenwich councillors next week.
The venue opened in 2021 but soon hit trouble. Last year Greenwich Council agreed to a £2 million loan to support the venture, which ran £14 million over the budget publicly stated.
A report before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee next week offers details of the loan and its repayment. On the night a verbal update will also be given.
So far £1,775,000 out of £2 million has been claimed.
It also states that repayment will not begin until 2026 and set to be paid back over 11 years of quarterly repayments.
The Council’s report gives three reasons that required the bail out.
Firstly, the pandemic. Then the cost-of-living crises and a delay in the Elizabeth line opening.
It does not mention other factors many have remarked upon including issues raised at previous Overview and Scrutiny meetings. One being a lack of advertising and signage and the other being a lack of events – as well as those line-ups sometimes being a bit too niche with a lack of popular acts to cross-subsidise.
In terms of advertising and signage this has improved, but still far from good.
A walk around the Thames Clippers pier and along the Thames Path near the venue shows none to be seen.
Even the building has no sign as seen below:
Banners attached to lamp posts along the area do not show Woolwich Works but instead highlight Berkeley Homes.
Perhaps not the biggest issue, but it struck me as curious as it’s cheap to do and alerts people walking along the Thames Path to its existence.
As for what’s on, the line up on their website looks thin. There’s some bigger names such as Tim Key, but it’s generally still pretty obscure stuff. Can a venue in Zone 4 survive on what’s being offered?
Other issues are a failure to link the venue to “Woolwich lates” events over many months. The Woolwich lates program saw the Mayor give Greenwich £130,000 for a number of events to support nightlife and the evening economy. Since then most have been predominantly daytime events ending before the sun even sets, with little to no linkage to their own premier venue.
Even their summer “beach” stops serving at 9pm.
It also doesn’t help when the council fences off their entire main square for weeks without telling people on the fear of anti-social behaviour, giving the impression its not a safe place to visit.
Given the excellent restoration of the venue and some superb events let’s hope it now succeeds and they can repay the loan, but simple things are still not being done to generate patronage.