The Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre in Taunton, Somerset has responded swiftly to the CV19 crisis by moving their regular courses and classes on to the World Wide Web, providing instant access to professional tutors and facilitators from in and around Somerset.
Deborah Ward, ‘Take Part’ Manager and project lead says, “Offering our classes online gives us an amazing opportunity to support our audience’s health and wellbeing during such a difficult time, while also providing The Brewhouse, with a valuable source of income”.
The not-for-profit charity closed its doors to the public on the 17th of March, following advice from HM Government. Since this decision was made staff have worked against the clock to reorganise the theatre’s events calendar, with close to 100 events rescheduled, postponed or cancelled at this point in time. “We have made hundreds of telephone calls and sent thousands of emails to ticket holders, providing different refund, account credit and donation options to them. We have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of our patrons, a lot of whom have chosen to donate the cost of their cancelled ticket to support The Brewhouse” says Operations Manager, Peter Holdway-Bradley.
As a Theatre and Arts Centre, the charity’s business relies on large numbers of people enjoying art and culture in a shared environment – and within close proximity of one another – something that will not be possible under current social distancing measures. So the potential offered by moving classes to an online format, while also promoting charitable donations, are two core streams of fundraising that the organisation is keen to explore.
The Brewhouse now has an impressive range of classes available to access online, all of which being led by regular workshop leaders including Sara Dudman (Develop Your Painting), Aneta Skutt (Flamenco) and Imogen Hackett (Pilates). Since the UK went in to ‘lock-down’ and the government’s support packages were announced, options available to free-lance workers and those who are self-employed have been heavily criticised and those working in the arts sector have been hit particularly hard. The Brewhouse hopes that these digital classes will not only provide vital health & wellbeing resources to the local community, but will also support the creative arts in the South West by providing work for local freelance & self-employed creatives.
These classes will be offered in a ‘pay what you can’ model, with some sessions starting at just £2, with the option to increase this contribution subject to individual circumstance.
Gareth Peebles, Marketing & Communications Manager says that, “As well as ensuring the longevity of our bricks and mortar building, our priority now is providing access to our diverse programme of live events, activities and cinema in a new and social-distancing-friendly format. We’re starting with these online classes because, despite being conducted online, sessions will be the same as if you were actually on-site at The Brewhouse. Live performances & cinema are a little trickier due to licensing and contracts, but moving forward our aim is to offer unique content and experiences for our audience to enjoy online”.
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