OVERVIEW

Embers Community Venture Ltd operate Embers bar in Carlisle. This venue operates on a non-profit basis, investing all of its profits back into the community which attends the venue, aiming to provide a long term, sustainable alternative option in the nightlife of Cumbria.

The community we serve can be loosely identified as those people who proudly identify with alternative subcultures. This includes, but is not limited to:

Metalheads, Punks, Rockers, Goths, Geeks, Bikers, Hippies

Directors

Director are volunteers. Responsible for the governance of the company, the directors will be limited to a maximum 12 in number, and are required to maintain regular attendance at directors meetings to ensure they can understand the desires and developments requested by the community, as well as ensuring the company complies with all regulations and requirements.

Current Directors:

  • Chloe Brownlee-Chapman
  • Tank Brownlee-Chapman
  • Raz White
  • Liam Stark

The Committee

Made up of a number of volunteers with a specific interest in the success of the venture. The committee provides direction and support to the Bar Manager, as well as conduct roles in promotion, development and operations of the venue.  Often members of the committee are also conducting director roles.

Current Committee Members and their specific areas of interest:

  • Chloe Brownlee-Chapman – Community Development, Operational Management
  • Tank Brownlee-Chapman – Operational Management, Networking and Community Engagement
  • Raz White – Events and Promotions, Operational Management
  • Liam Stark – Operational Management, Live Music and Sustainability
  • Natalie Faunch – Design and Marketing (Chunky Wombat)

The Bar

The bar is run by a paid team in the main but supported by volunteers from the community, and from the committee as required or beneficial.

The staff team are offered the opportunity to be involved in a training development scheme. We have high expectations of their enthusiasm, but will reward their commitment!

The Community

Will have the opportunity to attend the venue for events as a transitional customer, or to join the community more formally as a member of Embers (once the CIC is incorporated!).

Our community will always be respected, their wishes gathered, and the venue run for their benefit!

Goals

  1. Operate the Venue
  2. Register the venture as a CIC, providing an asset lock for the venture.
  3. Develop the offer from within the venue, improving:
    1. The physical appearance of the venue
    2. The Live Music offer
    3. The added value offer – which would be serving the community in ways outside of basic venue operations.
  4. Provide support to the community of Alternative Subcultures within Carlisle.
  5. Attain longer-term sustainability

Goal Specifications

Operating the Venue

Circumstances which led to the opportunity being presented have meant that the committee needed to form incredibly quickly, to ‘rescue’ the bar from closure. Because of this, we are in a position of having to run the venue at the same time as developing the venture.

The bar operates with a paid staff team, led by an experienced Bar Manager.

We are required to pay all of the bills usually associated with a venue of this type, including rent, business rates and insurances.

We operate the venue with an attitude based entry policy. A ‘dress code’ can be difficult to enforce with such a varied customer base, and a ‘give respect: get respect’ policy fits better with the overall aims of the venture.

Register the venture as a CIC, providing security for the future governance.

We have been successful in attaining some support from Cybermoor, funded by Cumbria County Council, and they are supporting the directors to develop the governance of the venture.

It is our intention to change the governance structure from the current Company Limited by Guarantee, running with a non-profit constitution, to become a Community Interest Company (a CIC). A CIC is a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders.

We intend the CIC to operate with a membership, open to our community, who will provide direction on the future operations of the venture, and elect committee members/directors, bringing the community to the heart of the decisionmaking process, and keep them truly in control.

Develop the offer from within the venue, improving:

The physical appearance of the venue

Unit 7 has been wholly neglected over a number of years, and as such, there is a rather long list of general maintenance issues, which we are already beginning to tackle.

We also plan to address two main issues with the venue layout, removing some seating to the rear of the venue, which will greatly improve the stage area – allowing a direct line of sight to a greater proportion of the venue. We will also move the DJ booth to behind the (rather large) bar area – enabling a closer symbiosis between the venue management and the DJ, as well as better use of space, and more coordinated sound desk for live events.

We would like to completely refurbish the appearance of the venue, but see this as a longer-term process, and are doing what we feel will make the greatest impact on customer experience first.

The Live Music offer

The committee is determined to plug the gap for club level live music gigs in Carlisle. Carlisle has excellent larger scale dedicated concert venues in The Brickyard and The Old Fire Station – but there is a clear space for a bar, with a more informal performance space, which local bands are able to offer in barter for exchange gigs in other areas of the country.

We have a dedicated, highly experienced committee member for events and promotions, to meet this end.

The added value offer – which would be serving the community in ways outside of basic venue operations.

Our longer-term aims include providing additional value to the offer to our community. This currently is an emerging picture, and we have discussed offering things as diverse as ‘Metal Yoga’ classes within the venue, to providing subsidised transport to festivals, or studio time for upcoming Cumbrian Bands – or offering free counselling to people who self-harm (of which the incidence is higher in people who identify with alternative subcultures). We see the future of the venue as a community hub, serving the community in multiple ways.

Provide support to the community of Alternative Subcultures within Carlisle.

As mentioned above, we are keen to expand the offer in the longer term to supporting the community in both health and wellbeing matters – but also we understand the importance of belonging, and we want to reach out to those who are lonely, or rurally isolated within Cumbria, and enable them to be a part of Embers too. We will utilise social media and video technology to make this possible.

Attain longer-term sustainability

The alternative scene in Carlisle has had a long history, and had moved venues over the years from clubs like ‘Star and Stripes’, through ‘The Pagoda’, ‘The Wheel’, ‘The Front Page’, ‘TC’s’, ‘Club Rock’ and others, but what has been apparent in more recent years, has been the instability of this offer.

By operating the venue as a non-profit, for the community, we hope to be able to provide a sustainable future for the alternative community and to grow with its changing needs and interests over the coming years.

We want to be able to support the continued employment of its staff and provide opportunities for them to develop their skills base, with appropriate training opportunities, which develop them as individuals. We want to offer opportunities for people to gain employment experience, and support them to develop a career which, longer-term will benefit the economic development of Cumbria.