Monday, October 23, 2006

VISIT: Wakefield Theatre Royal

Today the group visited Wakefield Theatre Royal, which was built in 1894. We were given a tour and a talk by Murray Edwards, who is the theatre’s Chief Executive. The theatre has 499 seats divided into three levels, the gallery, the dress circle and the balcony – which used to charge differing prices and reflected class and social status, although today all seating prices are the same (prices vary by performance between £10 and £22.50). The seats are refurbished cinema seats that still help to maintain the Victorian ambience of the theatre, along with an ornately decorated ceiling and excellent acoustics provided by the shape of the auditorium. When the seats were refurbished they were reduced in number due to balcony areas being used for lighting, and also due to health and safety considerations. The theatre building has limited heating and air conditioning facilities, and the temperatures inside can often reflect the temperatures outside – especially when it is hot in summer.

The converted cinema seating

The maintained Victorian decor, including ceiling vent

The building was originally used as a theatre, in the 1930s it became a cinema until the 1970s, when it was converted into a bingo hall. In 1981 the building was purchased for £100,000 to be converted back into a theatre, which took five years in total. The theatre was awarded a grade two star listed building status, which meant that it could not be pulled down, and could only be used as a theatre. Due to the building’s age there are high maintenance fees and in 1995 a further £250,000 was spent on refurbishments, followed by another £250,000 between 2002 and 2003.

Murray addresses the group from the balcony

The view from the stage, with the lighting rigs lowered

The backstage area of the theatre is currently very small, this can be problematic when there are large performances that may involve as many as 150 members of the cast and crew. In May 2006 planning was granted for a brand new ‘state of the art’ extension to the current premises that will help with such capacity issues. The new extension is set to include facilities such as a split level foyer with bar and cafe areas, new box office facilities, lift access to all levels, an education suite and a brand new state of the art studio space.

Backstage - the store of painted 'back drops'

Under the stage - the sprung trap door that can be used in performances

The theatre employs five technical staff which is an increase from two – this is due largely to the wider range of performance types that the theatre runs. The theatre has charitable status, and receives funding from the Arts Council and Wakefield City Council, it has a turnover of £1 million per year. Annually the theatre runs 250 performances, 65% of which are put on by the theatre, and 35% of which are put on by organisations such as schools and societies. By far the biggest selling product in the theatre’s year is pantomime. This makes up 30% of all output (60 performances out of the 250 per annum), and generates £60,000-£80,000. The panto season may attract 25,000 visitors – which is a gateway to other future theatre performances. Over the year, the theatre runs at 60% of its seating capacity, with some performances sold out, and others under-sold. The theatre is considered a cultural and educational resource for the community, and also helps to run initiatives such as anti-bullying programmes with schools, no smoking initiatives with the local Primary Care trust, as well as culturally inclusive programmes.

In terms of marketing there are six main mediums by which the theatre communicates with the public, these are: brochures; letters; website; posters; broadcast emails; broadcast text messages. Louise the Sales and Marketing manager estimated that it took four contacts with a customer to generate a sale. The biggest single sales driver is the brochure which is responsible for 70% of ticket sales – when a ticket is sold it is recorded how the person heard about the performance. Public Relations i.e. stories in the local media are also used to raise the public’s awareness of the theatre.

Many thanks to Murray and Louise, for an attention-grabbing look into the running of Wakefield Theatre Royal.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Have You Retuned Your Digi Box?

This week the UK's fifth and newest terrestrial television channel - Channel 5 released two new digital channels, Five US, and Five Life. As the name suggests Five US is devoted to showing only American programmes and films, and Five Life to chat, home, garden and lifestyle programmes (traditionally day-time TV). This 'specialising' of TV channels is an example of segmentation that has largely occurred in the UK since the onset of subscription and digital TV. The UK is set to become the world's first country to switch off analogue transmission of TV broadcasts, relying solely on digital signals, this will happen between 2008 and 2012, read more about it here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

VISIT: Barnsley Football Club

Today the group visited Oakwell Stadium – home of Barnsley Football Club. We were shown around by Dave Hancock (DH) the BFC Academy Manager, Dave’s many years of experience were evident in his insightful yet down to earth approach to the subject of the running of a football club and sport’s stadium.

We entered into the stadium which has an approximate capacity of 23,500, with the smallest stand (West Stand) holding 1,500 spectators, and the largest stand (East Stand) holding 12,000, the remaining 10,000 seats are divided between the behind goal stands – 6,000 in the ‘Away’ North Stand, and 4,000 in the Enterprise Stand.

The North Stand

The group walk from the East to the North Stand

We then visited the East Stand ground floor concourse, which was a concreted area that on match days has franchise run bar / catering facilities and a bookmakers. The catering is currently run on a franchise basis partly due to the low profit margins. DH informed us that on match days this is a busy area that is accessed through turnstiles and monitored by stewards.

The East Stand Lower Concourse

DH informed us that football fans are fickle and results orientated, if the team have a losing streak (and they are currently 5th from the bottom of the division after losing to local rivals Sheffield Wednesday) attendances can drop dramatically. The club has 4,500 hard core fans (fan is an abbreviation of fanatic) who come irrespective of how the team are playing or what division they are in, and has sold 5,000 season tickets this season. Outside of the hardcore fans the majority of the rest of the supporters come to be entertained – if they entertainment is poor, they may not come back again. When Barnsley were in the Premier League (97-98 season) attendances were on average between 17,000 and 18,000. When the club were relegated attendances dropped to around 12,000, and when they were relegated again into league one attendances dropped to just 7,000. In May 2006 Barnsley reached the play off final in Cardiff against Swansea City, which Barnsley won 4-3 on penalties, 25,000 Barnsley fans travelled down to South Wales, now the team are back in the Coca Cola championship attendances are averaging at around 10,000. This is evidence enough that a healthy fan base is there, and are present when the results are going the teams way.

Football can be an expensive day out, with entry prices at Oakwell between £18 - £22 per adult, and a bottle of water costing £1.80 – many of the local population simply cannot afford to partake in this on a regular basis. On the East Stand lower concourse there were empty advertising boards (unsold marketing space), DH told us that selling marketing space can be problematic as it is not only tied to results, they are now competing with other local sports teams (and not just football). DH stressed that there is a real need to get the youngsters in early so that they become fans at an early age and choose Barnsley FC as their preferred team to other local rivals (Doncaster Rovers, Rotherham United, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Leeds United). This helps protect future income streams from youngsters when they grow up, and their parents as they do. As part of this strategy the club is offering a free child ticket if a parent buys a ticket to the upcoming Coventry home game.

When asked about the fan culture and atmosphere on match days DH was quick to inform the group that trouble was rare and only a very small minority were responsible for most of it, including racism. He did say that at away games the atmosphere can be threatening. There is a large drinking culture amongst many football supporters, the East Stand catered for this with bars on two of the tiers, and a possible third bar for ‘members’ that may at some point be built in-between the current levels. For families who want to be in a safer environment there is a dedicated family area in the upper tier of the East Stand. By law alcohol can only be consumed at a football match if you are not in view of the pitch, so drinking takes place on the concourse areas.

We then went upstairs to the East Stand executive suite, where executive boxes that hold approximately ten people are sold for £8,000 per season – all of the current executive boxes are sold. The catering facilities in the executive area are also franchised out to a local firm called Brooklands. On match days executive box holders receive complimentary tea, coffee and sandwiches – if any other refreshments are required they must be paid for. The executive suite also plays host to other hospitality events such as wedding receptions and theme nights.

The Executive Suite

DH addresses the group

The Executive Suite has a bar, but there are strict legal rules governing the consumption of alcohol within it.

Financially the club is now ‘in the black’ after spending a period of time in financial difficulty, which included a period in administration with debts of £5 million. This was attributed (amongst other things) to the collapse of ITV Digital and the loss of television revenue, as well as players that were signed on high wages during the Premier League season that were given long contracts. In order to redress this the club restructured much of its staffing, this included the number of coaching staff being reduced from thirty to twelve, the scouting budget being considerably slashed and many staff working on seasonal contracts. There is also a ‘no wastage’ policy in operation which includes the last person leaving the room turning the lights off. In terms of budgeting for a season, the club budgets for being knocked out in the first round of all cups (FA Cup, Carling Cup) – if the club subsequently has a decent run of games in the cup competitions this translates to extra money.

In terms of culture DH spoke of Barnsley as a caring club that nurtures it’s young academy recruits who come aged six and above, and can sign for a club from the age of nine onwards. 96% of those who come from the academy do not make it as professional footballers – when asked if this made the academy financially viable DH pointed out that in the current first team there are ten academy players. If an academy youngster is not offered a professional contract, the club and the Professional Footballers Association help them to find an education programme so that they can retrain along a new career path. Five years ago the Barnsley academy was regarded as one of the best in the country, when the club were in financial difficulty cutbacks had to be made and the academy’s rating dropped, although it is now back on the up again. We were given a tour of the academy including the changing rooms (adorned with motivational words) training pitches and impressive indoor training area. The club also have astro turf pitches – however they do not use these for players now due to the harmful effects of astro turf on the joints. These are now hired out to the public at £35 per hour which generates the club a revenue of between £50,000 and £60,000 per year.

The tour ended at the club shop, which sold a range of branded BFC goods and is the only seller of official BFC merchandise, BFC replica shirts and kits are not sold at any other sports shops.

Many thanks to Barnsley FC especially Dave Hancock for a very insightful talk, and Don Rowing for making the visit possible.

The group view the pitch from the Executive Suite

The Academy dressing room - top the walls are adorned with motivational words, below DH gives the group a team talk.

The player's gym

The Academy entrance

The first team in training

The indoor academy pitch

REVIEW: Oceana, Leeds

Almost one year ago Oceana - Leeds’s latest ‘superclub’ opened it’s doors to the public, three thirty somethings decided to pay a visit on Saturday night to see how the club was faring eleven months on. We arrived early and found both the queuing system working effectively and the door staff in friendly and welcoming mode. The entry price is free before 10pm, then £7.00 before midnight and £8.00 after, which is an increase of £3.00 (60%) on what it was when the club first opened – first hand evidence of a pricing strategy that was designed to get people in and hooked, (and maybe the competition closed down) before the prices were raised to reflect true market value i.e. what people are prepared to pay. Incidentally speaking about competition, the owners of Oceana – Luminar Leisure, also own Leeds other ‘superclub’ – Majestyk, which has recently suffered from decreasing attendances and is to be closed down and turned into the City’s largest casino, evidence enough that either Leeds is only big enough to support one huge club of this scale, or that Luminar are looking to gain a stranglehold of Leeds’s entertainment industry.

We moved into the club to the cloak room to find that the prices there had also increased from £1.00 to £1.50, although the service was still excellent – and most importantly fast. One thing that hit all of us upon entering the cloak area was the smell, one can only guess what it was, but it was reminiscent of sweaty feet and unfortunately this is something that lingered around the entire club and was only masked at peak busy time (midnight onwards) by equally unpleasant cigarette smoke. The most likely culprit for the smell was probably one years worth of drinks spilled onto the carpeted floor – which begs the question, is this type of carpet the right surfacing for a nightclub?

Oceana has lots of rooms with differing themes, from the grand ball room, to the Aspen Ski Lodge, Eighties Disco and the Parisian Boudoir. The idea being, that if you don’t like the ambience of one room, that there are plenty of others to choose from. By providing a number of different rooms, Oceana also attracts a good mix of clientele and not just 18 to 30 year olds. The busiest room before midnight by far was the Eighties Disco – which unfortunately was reminiscent of ‘Jumping Jacks’ (Majestyk’s low-brow sister club) with a majority twenty and thirty something audience that were inebriated enough to dance enthusiastically to ‘Uptown Girl’ on the flashing dance floor.

The Aspen Ski Lodge remains airy and a good place to chill – unfortunately the outdoor balconies were closed due to the cool outside near-Aspen temperatures, but there were plenty of tables and chairs free. The Parisian Boudoir which boasts four poster bed style seating was made more effective by the presence of a hen party in Moulin Rouge style outfits, but one disappointment was that the Hudson Suite and other ‘quiet’ rooms were closed and locked – why – who knows, but one may speculate that certain unwanted activities may have been taking place behind these closed and secluded doors.

Two things that Oceana has plenty of are bars and toilets. We never had to queue at any of these all night. Bar service was fast and polite, a pint of premium lager was just shy of £3.00, which is slightly dear, but at least it had not gone up from what was being charged last year. All of the toilets had attendants, I for one do not believe that they are necessary, and may in fact contribute to poorer standards of hygiene through people not washing their hands for fear of being ‘hijacked’ by the person offering towels and perfumes in one hand, and the ‘tip plate’ in the other.

Oceana is quite disabled friendly in design, with wide corridors, gently sloping floors and lifts, and it was encouraging to see several clubbers in wheel chairs, however I did not see any lowered drinks bars for wheel chair users.

The Grand Ballroom opened at approximately 11:30 – and filled very quickly afterwards. Disappointingly it did not seem quite as grand as it did a year ago, a dancing balcony had been removed, and the giant mirror ball didn’t twinkle. The table and chair area adjacent to the dance floor has now been replaced with a stage, which four dancers performed on – but only for a short while. Two other balconies had dancing girls on them performing for longer. The sound system and DJ area is accessible and still looks cutting edge. The range of music remains impressive, with a good mix including, hip hop, R&B, commercial house and club classics. The dance floor was completely packed from midnight until we left at 1:30am. The DJ would have continued to play music until 3am.

Overall Oceana remains a decent venue, whilst its initial glitz and glam has lost some of its lustre, the club still offers a good mix of ambiences, with something that should suit the tastes of most late night visitors. The staff are friendly and offer a professional welcoming service, however the night wasn’t ‘cheap’ but then again neither were the facilities – it’s just a pity about that smell.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Entertainment Needs Volunteers

Volunteer workers are rife within the entertainment industry, from those individuals whose belief in a cause motivates them into giving up their time in order to support it, to those who wish to gain valuable experience through work based learning. Graham (2003) created a typology of volunteers based upon their motivations to work, and the benefits that they can offer to the host organisation. These include discoverers who want to develop skills and knowledge, leisure seekers who see volunteering as a hobby, and organisers who lead and instruct (Graham, 2003).

There are a plethora of events within the entertainment industry that utilise the help of volunteers from small scale ‘local festivals’ such as the Kirkstall Festival in Leeds, to major international music festivals such as Glastonbury. At both of these very different events, there are an army of volunteer workers who are working to help in the smooth running of it. At the Kirkstall Festival, bar staff and stall holders may be working to support the community of which they are a part, at Glastonbury litter pickers may be working in order to gain free entry into the festival. Whilst motivations for volunteering vary, the valuable contribution that this workforce make is vital both economically and to the very survival of a number of smaller-scale entertainment events.

At the forthcoming ‘Abbey Dash’ 10km road race in Leeds, several Entertainment Management students from Leeds Met have volunteered to assist as race marshalls, their motivation simply being the want to learn ‘on the job’ some of the requirements of a person who may have to deal with aspects of public guidance, crowd control, and health and safety issues. In Graham’s typology these students are ‘discoverers’ (Graham, 2003).

From February 2007 until the end of the course in June 2009, Entertainment Management students are required to undertake work based learning for 80 hours per semester, some of this will be as ‘discoverer’ volunteers. If you would be interested in offering one of our students the opportunity to learn in the work place please email me on .

Source: Graham, M. (2003) An exploration of volunteering support within the National Trust for Scotland. (industry report) Edinburgh, National Trust for Scotland.

Monday, October 09, 2006

VISIT: Grosvenor Casino

Today the group participated in its second industrial visit at the Grosvenor Casino, on Merrion Way, Leeds. After signing in, we were taken on a tour of the Casino floor by Assistant General Manager Henry Clapham who has over 30 years experience of working in the casino industry. Henry gave an extremely insightful talk about the running of the casino and answered a number of questions posed by the students. The casino itself was a hive of activity, with table surfaces being refurbished and the floor area being prepared in time for opening. The key features of the talk that Henry gave are highlighted beneath the sub-headings below.


1. The casino has 25 large-payout gaming machines with a maximum prize of £3,000 – this is the most machines and maximum payout permitted by law. Gaming machines are increasing in popularity.
2. Roulette is the casino’s most popular game.
3. The most popular area of the casino is the bar, for many visitors this is a social venue to meet as is a bar or club, many visitors to do not gamble at all.
4. There is also a restaurant, which offers corporate and group bookings – these can include lessons in how to play card games.
5. Due to the popularity of internet gambling and television poker Texas Hold-Em Poker has become the fastest growing card game in the world, the casino has recently demolished a store area to create a brand new hi-tech poker playing area. Players can register to take part in competitions – the prize money being determined by how many people take part. At £20 per head, if 50 people take part the prize money is £1,000, the casino is not allowed to take a stake or percentage of the prize money so charges a separate registration fee to earn money from this activity. This is one of the most significant means by which this casino competes with other local casinos.
6. The casino has an area of Mah-jong tables, that are used almost entirely by Chinese members, these provide valuable daytime revenue (when the casino is traditionally at its quietest) as many Chinese pensioners (up to 50-60) come and play. This generates for the casino approximately £60 per day (for the afternoon games).
7. As well as gambling the Casino offers live music on some evenings, which has recently included X-Factor finalists, this is being reduced though due to increasing costs in booking acts.
8. The casino has a pool table, which once would have been unusual for a casino, due to the health and safety implications of cues and balls being used as weapons by disgruntled customers.


1. Advertising has been difficult due to legal restrictions, however now the casino has a website and can be promoted by posters. Mail shots seem to be the most effective means by which customers are enticed to visit the casino. At present there are a series of generous promotions in place with give-aways including MP4 players, digital camcorders, and CD players.
2. The casino market has in the past been dominated by males, however the number of female members has seen steady increase, and is now only just less than the number of males.

Human Resources

1. All employees need to be aged 18 or over, they are not allowed criminal convictions, however applications from people with minor offences may be considered. The period from application to acceptance is approximately six weeks.
2. Casinos do not have to adhere to the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
3. CRB Checks and GB11 forms must be completed by anybody wishing to become a member of staff at the casino.
4. The casino is now taking on more experienced croupier staff from Continental Europe and Eastern Europe, this is largely due to the fact that it has become more cost effective to do so – not in terms of wages, all staff are paid the same, but due to the lesser necessity to invest time and money into training up new inexperienced staff as croupiers. It has also been noted that many Easter European staff provide a superior customer service experience.
5. Henry himself has risen through the ranks from being a Trainee Dealer to being Assistant General Manager. The structure via which promotions take place is as follows: Trainee Dealer; Dealer; Senior Dealer; Inspector; Gaming Supervisor; Pit Boss; Manager; Assistant General Manager; General Manager.
6. Staff turnover is generally low, those who do leave, generally do so to work at another casino.

Ethical Considerations

1. Grosvenor casino recognises that gambling addiction can be a problem and so trains its staff in recognising symptoms of this in visitors. Members who display the behaviour of a problem gambler are offered information about Gamcare. Those members who are deemed to have a gambling addiction are banned for life from all Grosvenor casinos.
2. Drunks are not allowed to join the casino, those who appear intoxicated are not allowed onto the premises.

Safety and Security

1. Violence and assaults are extremely rare occurrences, those who are found guilty of such behaviour are banned from the casino for life. The casino only employs door staff on a weekend, and does not even have security patrolling the casino floor, which may seem unusual for an establishment that has so much cash on the premises. This particular casino is considered reasonably secure due to the main area being on the first floor rather than ground floor making it unattractive for anybody wanting to make a quick get away. The safe and alarm systems are comparable to those found in a bank.
2. Anyone caught cheating is barred for life. Cheats are becoming more high tech, and now may employ sophisticated gadgets such as handheld computers.

Other Legislative Impacts

1. Under the Gambling Act (2005) The Grosvenor Casino is classified as a small casino.
2. Membership of the casino is free, and is now instantaneous, a person is now able to walk in off the street and become a member straight away providing that they have sufficient identification to prove that they are who they say they are and that they are aged over 18. The 1968 Gaming act meant that people joining casinos had to wait 48 hours between application and membership being granted, the Gambling Act (2005) has resulted in this rule being relaxed.
3. A large proportion of casino visitors are smokers, when the ban on smoking in indoor public places comes into effect next August, the casino is building an outside ground floor secure area for members to smoke. For staff a first floor outdoor balcony will be built – staff and casino visitors are not allowed to socialise, so separate smoking areas are necessary.
4. The relaxation of licensing laws regarding the sale of alcohol has meant that the casino bar now stays open until 5:30am. There have been no problems associated with extended bar opening hours.
5. Staff who work at the casino are themselves not allowed to gamble.


1. Henry regards any other leisure or entertainment venue as being competition for the casino.
2. This casino is expected to retain 60% of money spent on gambling activities, however this does not always happen, £5,000 wins are not uncommon, the largest single payout was £234,000.

Many thanks to Henry and the staff at Grosvenor casino, for a very interesting and information rich afternoon.
The Mah-Jong Tables

Above and below, the increasingly popular gaming machines

The new Texas Hold-Em Poker area


Gamblertainment is entertainment that centres around risking the loss of money for a possible gain. The main areas of gamblertainment are casinos, bingo, bookmakers, amusement arcades, and live racing venues with major gambling facilities e.g. York Race Course.

These can be entered into the Recreation Matrix as follows:

‘In 1999, it was estimated that there were between 185,000 and 460,000 problem gamblers in the UK. Some individuals become obsessed by gambling to the point at which they cease to function as normal members of society, they may do great harm not only to themselves but also to their families and cause wider social and economic harm’ (DCMS, 2005).

In 2004, a study into gambling participation, commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and conducted by the survey company NOP found that over 70% of adults gamble (including participation in the National Lottery). Gambling expenditure (i.e. stakes less winnings) in the year ending 31 March 2004 is estimated at £8,875 million, which equates to 0.8% of UK GDP. In the UK the gambling industry employs approximately 100,000 full time equivalents (DCMS, 2005).

The Gambling Act (2005) has been introduced in order to help better regulate the gambling industry and make it as a whole become more accessible. This has drawn in major investment from abroad such as; Australia based Publishing and Broadcasting (PBL) agreeing a £36.3m deal to acquire a 46% stake in Aspinalls UK casino business (Aspers); HARRAH'S Entertainment, (the world's largest gaming company) striking a £279.3 million deal to buy London Clubs International; and Malaysian entertainment group Genting agreeing to buy UK Casino operator Stanley Leisure for £639m.

The Gambling Act (2005) has three overarching objectives:
* to prevent gambling being a source of crime and disorder;
* to ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and;
* to protect children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

Whether you are an advocate of gamblertainment or not, there is no denying that it is a significant contributor to the UK economy, and despite ethical considerations around gambling addiction, that gamblertainment will grow with further new establishments (including huge ‘Resort Casinos’) opening.

Source: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. (2005) Gambling Act: Regulatory Impact Assessment. [Internet] URL available from: Accessed 7th October 2006.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Recreation, Entertainment, Sport and Leisure

Recreation is the whole spectrum of activities that take place outside of normal working, be that work in the workplace, work as study, or work in the home. Many of us will have never considered this before, but we engage in recreation as part of a therapeutic refreshment of body and /or mind.

Entertainment is a recreational activity that is broadly passive on behalf of the participants (those being entertained), and broadly active on behalf of the hosts (the entertainers).

Leisure and sport are also recreational activities, however in these activities, the participants become highly involved in generating or creating the activity that they are undertaking, and the host (if there is a host) is broadly passive.

The Recreation Matrix (below) is designed to demonstrate this.

In the above matrix, where a recreational activity has minimal participant involvement in its creation, and a highly active host, this constitutes entertainment in its purest form. In a musical stage show, hosts are highly active participating in acting, singing, and dancing, and the audience is broadly passive, i.e. people sat watching and interacting with sporadic applause and laughter, in this case almost pure entertainment exists.

In the above matrix, where a recreational activity has maximum participant involvement in its creation, and a passive host, this constitutes leisure or sport in its purest form. In a game of squash the participants are highly active within the game, the host may have provided the facility but otherwise has no involvement - this is pure sport. In a game of chess the participants are again involved in the playing of the game, and there is no host, so therefore no host activity - this is pure leisure.

My Recreation Matrix is work in progress, and I would be happy to hear your thoughts on this, whether you agree with it, or want to pull it apart completely.

Monday, October 02, 2006

VISIT: Royal Armouries

Today the group went on the its first external visit to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. The day began with a talk by Maurice Tarlo on the museums and cultural sector in general, including modern developments in a museums ability to be an educational story-teller with the Storyeum in British Columbia, Canada being highlighted as one of many examples.

After being given evaluation forms of the Royal Armouries, students were asked to visit a gallery in order to complete an appraisal on the experience of doing so, before meeting to attend a monologue interpretation. The interpreter (or actor) gave a very powerful account of the life of Second World War spy Eric Erickson immortalised in the 1962 film, the Counterfeit Traitor.

Royal Armouries Museum Director Peter Armstrong spoke about the museum's ability to educate, he used the example of a Colt M911 which was highlighted to show the number of angles from which a story about a gun could be told, including its history, the production line on which it is made, and the fact that one was used to kill Tupac Shakur. Dozens of other areas about the weapon were highlighted to demonstrate how different audiences have varying interests. Peter also spoke of less well known work and income generation activities, undertaken by the Royal Armouries including the setting up of new commercial 'brands' and consultancy work in ballistics for the Police Force, he also spoke of the need to 'sweat the assets' of the museum in order to generate as much revenue as possible from it.

After Peter's, talk both Peter and Museum Chief Executive Officer Paul Evans hosted a question and answer session, at which they gave a frank and very honest assessment of their own personal motivations as senior figures at the armouries including their motivations to work in the Public sector having predominantly private sector backgrounds. Paul also highlighted the difficult circumstances under which the museum operates, including the fact that valuable revenues from the museum's commercial catering operations do not go back into the museum. The Royal Armouries underwent financial difficulties in the early years after it was opened in Leeds in 1996, it was a public-private partnership, of which the private partnership faced bankruptcy with huge debts. As part of the agreement to save the museum it was agreed that commercial catering revenues would go back into the private company.

Paul also spoke of the Government's requirement of National Museums to have to save 7% per year for the next three years from their operating budgets, which equates to just over a fifth of the entire operating budget, something that is certainly not an easy task, and will require additional and innovative income generating activites to achieve.

After this the students were invited to attend a tudor horse riding display, where they saw costumed entertainers demonstarting horse riding and weaponary skills.

As an educational day out, the Royal Armouries demonstrates a proven ability to put across information in a varying number of ways. It is certainly worth a visit, as is the surrounding Clarence Dock area of Leeds City Centre which is currently going through a period of major urban improvement and development.