The Rivoli Ballroom: A cunning plan

Members of the 'Save the Rivoli Ballroom' Facebook group recently received an email from one of the members, James MacDonald, outlining what can only be described as an ambitious plan.

It's no secret that the Rivoli Ballroom has been advertised for sale - albeit to the right buyer. The current owner, Bill, is ready to retire after 15 years running the Ballroom, but wants to leave the building in safe hands.

The recent listing of the building means that it's no longer at threat from being bulldozed by developers, but there is still a risk that the venue could be bought and turned into something less sympathetic to its history, or given the current climate could fail to attract the right buyer and fall into disrepair.

In his email, James proposes that all those who take an interest in the ballroom join forces to... buy the Rivoli. The price? Well, that would start with a cool £1m down-payment. From there - who knows?

We've since managed to contact James, and he's allowed us to share the next email in the saga, which will be winging its way to Facebook group members soon:

"Thanks to those that got back to me with useful feedback; it seems that the two biggest concerns are:

- Bill, the owner, who seems to have some rather unrealistic ideas what his venue is worth and can pull in, and this may get in the way of meaningful negotiations

- The venue itself is in a rather poor state, has some issues around it and may need some work/ investment to make it the venue what it could be (which is to be expected).

Thanks to those that have offered their help and expertise. Great to see quite a number of people, with all sorts of experience, are committed to making this happen. Instead of having one big meeting, I think the best way to move forward, will be to break the process into a few stages, each stage using the relevant experience of the participants.

Stage 1: PLAN DEVELOPMENT: This will be a smallish meeting with people who have had experience of community-led enterprise and other business-type experience. A small group will save time and be able to get in-depth with the nitty-gritty. We will need to hammer out how to incorporate the enterprise that best protects the community’s interest, crunch the numbers for projecting revenue streams, etc. With this we can approach Bill, the owner, with a proposal. If he accepts, we can move onto Stage 2.

Stage 2: FUNDRAISING: This will be a brainstorming session on how to raise a downpayment and other investment. Hopefully, we will be able to use the Rivoli Ballrooms for some fundraising events. This stage will be relevant to those who have fundraising and event experience, and anyone else who would like to help out, but is unsure what they can contribute. From this, we will be able to create an Action Plan, and start organising.

Stage 3: BUY-OUT: If all goes to plan, this will be the moment, where we sign some sort of agreement with the owner and some transfer of ownership/ rights to an overarching “organising committee” will take place, when the committee will take on the responsibility of running and managing the Ballroom. From then on, it’ll be open to put events on, throw ideas at, and all the good stuff.

Everyone’s contribution will be essential to make this happen, whether in time, effort or money. So thanks again for your interest. The first stage will be the hardest; that is to get Bill to accept a reasonable offer that is affordable for us. We will keep you informed as to the progress through the stages, and look forward to getting together soon."

Now, this masterplan is of course still in the early stages, and no doubt the accountants and lawyers amongst you will have fun finding flaws, but we have to admire James for sticking his neck out and trying to make this dream a reality. What do you think - pie in the sky, or power to the people?