We are looking forward to reopening when permitted, hopefully on May 17th. This has been a tough year for Southwold Arts Centre but, with your support, we have kept bouncing back, reopening each time as soon as we were allowed.
From the beginning of the first lockdown in March, we managed just 12 events in 2020, compared with our normal tally of over 100. We were delighted that Matthew Townshend Productions managed to lay on a virtual Theatre on the Coast season, and that some supporters were able to attend the live filmings. Our ‘Made in Southwold’ Film Season was enjoyed, especially our Gala Relaunch with ‘East of Ipswich’. And Gavin Dean’s wonderful panto managed several performances, including a sell-out on Christmas Eve, before the third lockdown descended.
Generous support received:
Thanks to your generous support, with over £5000 raised in individual donations, and support from East Suffolk Council Small Businesses Emergency Grants, from Suffolk Community Foundaton, and from Southwold Town Council, we survived the three lockdowns and are in a good state to relaunch on May 17th. Generous grants from the Southwold Trust have allowed us to carry out urgent external refurbishment of St Edmunds Hall and these works are now completed. A further generous grant from the Southwold Trust will allow us to carry out a major refurbishment of our stage lighting and audio system. We used a substantial grant from the Coastal Community Fund to purchase a new permanent seating block, which you can see pictures of on our webpage. Donations from Southwold Town Council and County Councillor Michael Ladd are allowing us to purchase essential equipment for the safe and efficient use of the hall.
Under new management:
We took the opportunity of lockdown 1 to improve our management structure, with clearly defined roles for a Finance Director, a Health and Safety Officer, a Hall Manager and an IT Manager. We’ve created a new webpage and social media platforms. We have an active Programme Group, exploring new ideas for our future programme, and a Publicity Group bringing a more professional slant to our promotion of events.
Café open three days a week:
With support from the East Suffolk Bounce Back Fund and from the ESC Local Villages Community Partnership, we are extending our fortnightly coffee mornings to having our café open three days a week. Come in for coffee or tea and a chat!
Reopening with social distancing measures in place:
We anticipate that we may have to operate for some time with social distancing measures in place, including our one-way system round the foyer and hall, socially distanced queuing, face masks, and spaces between family groups.
We will also have the hall thoroughly cleaned and ventilated, with the fans running during performances.
We are looking forward to running three films in collaboration with Hannah Wright’s Open Air Cinema on the Common, a week’s visit by Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds and Matthew Townshend’s Theatre-on-the-Coast season from July 19th – Sept 5th, with three new productions, as well as other individual shows in the summer and autumn.
Appeal for donations:
Many of you have contributed generously and we are very grateful for your support, which kept us afloat at a very difficult time in spring 2020. You also responded generously to Matthew Townshend’s appeal for support for Theatre on the Coast, and he was able to raise over £7000.
We are always grateful for your support. You can make a donation, either by making an online bank transfer to Sole Bay Arts CIO, sort code 204545, account number 33087271, or by sending a cheque made out to ‘Sole Bay Arts CIO’ to Southwold Arts Centre, Cumberland Rd, Southwold IP18 6JP.
Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you after May 17th.
(Chair of Trustees, Sole Bay Arts CIO)