Improve your marketing, Woolwich Works bosses to be told by council

Woolwich Works sign
Woolwich Works opened its doors in September last year

The charity running Woolwich Works will be told to improve its marketing strategy as part of plans to secure the venue’s future, a senior Greenwich councillor said last night.

Greenwich Council spent £45 million on refurbishing buildings in the Royal Arsenal so it could create both Woolwich Works and a new home for the immersive theatre company Punchdrunk – £14 million more than the publicised budget.

But ticket sales at Woolwich Works are believed to have been disappointing, and last week the council indicated that it will shell out more money to support the trust.

The venue opened last September, and has had to contend with the after-effects of the pandemic, which left many reluctant to attend indoor venues.

But its programming and promotion has also come in for criticism; signage in the area does not point to Woolwich Works while it is unclear to passers-by what actually goes on in the building.

Woolwich Elizabeth Line station exit
Matt Hartley said the lack of signage to Woolwich Works from the area’s new Elizabeth Line station “defies common sense”

A promised report detailing what the town hall would be doing was not published at last night’s full council meeting, the first since March and the debut outing for its new leader, Anthony Okereke.

Adel Khaireh, the cabinet member for culture, said that the trust had not yet formally asked for help but the council would assess any request and “do our best to help”.

The council’s Conservative opposition leader, Matt Hartley, raised this website’s report. “A lot of people have pointed out seemingly deficiencies in marketing, for example, outdated signage on the building and no signage at the Elizabeth line station, which for a destination we’re trying to draw visitors to, defies common sense,” he said.

“I appreciate he’s not running the show, but could he crack some heads and fix those very practical points now while officers are working on the paper?”

Khaireh said: “We’re going to be doing everything we can with the trust and encouraging them to ramp up their marketing strategy.”

A written answer said Woolwich Works had created 39 full-time jobs, of which 11 had gone to borough residents, created a pool of 41 residents who could work flexibly, and brought in funding of £1.4 million to help support itself.

Khaireh also said in the written answer that Woolwich Works had put on 108 public performances “spanning a diverse range of art forms, genres and cultures” as well as “free schools performances to hundreds of children”.

“Like any new venture, it will take time to establish itself,” the written answer added. “We will continue to work with the Trust in order to help sustain it in the early stages of operation in order to help it go from strength to strength.”

Next month the venue will launch a three-week festival of music, comedy and spoken word, Woolwich Words and Sounds.

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