During the COVID-19 pandemic, we found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands during due to event cancellations and restrictions. Instead of resting on our laurels, we spent the time carrying out maintenance and upgrades to our infrastructure and our spaces.
We were also fortunate enough to receive culture recovery funding from Arts Council England, as well as a second grant from the Rothschild foundation to allow us to build on the original grant that we received from them to develop our gardens with our partner organisation, Social Link.
Read on to find out more about the improvements and refurbishments that we were able to carry out…
Cafe Space Refurbishment
We’d been planning to refurbish the bar in the Cafe Space for a while, and 2020 gave us the perfect opportunity to get it done. Our resident curator Tabitha Gunstone-Pollock led the development of an art gallery in the space, while bar manager Fran and artist-in-residence Dan of Decreate led refurbishment of the Cafe Space bar.
Lighting equipment and expertise was provided by Architainment Lighting Ltd, and the new-look bar and gallery were unveiled to the public in early 2021.
We’d already invested a lot of time and resources into our garden ahead of the pandemic, including by working with Social Link to develop a herb garden and to grow fresh produce that could be used on site as part of their Social Arts Cafe.
During 2020, we continued to develop the garden and to turn it into our third venue, allowing us to launch our popular Music in the Garden series of events. We installed a shed and a ramp at the rear of the building to boost accessibility, and we plan to continue investing in and upgrading the space in 2021 and beyond.
2021 and Beyond
In May 2021, we were fortunate enough to be awarded a second grant from the Rothschild Foundation to continue developing the Garden Space, including through the purchase of upgraded furniture and the build of a semi-permanent stage area. These upgrades are still ongoing and we have plans to keep improving our gardens in the years to come.
The art gallery inside the Cafe Space launched in the summer, allowing us to turn our attention to the Theatre Space bar. We also continued to invest in equipment (sound and lighting equipment in particular) and to work towards the eventual creation and installation of a new foyer and Theatre Space toilet facilities. Watch this space!