Since the Theatre temporarily closed its doors to the public a few weeks ago, we have been working hard to ensure we secure our future in any way possible, whilst doing all we can to support and stay connected with our audiences and team.
It is incredibly important to all of us at Derby Theatre that we stay connected, as much as we possibly can, with audiences, artists, students, and the communities we serve at this time. This time has also taught us to reflect, refocus, reprioritise and to work, communicate and engage in some new and exciting ways….to keep theatre and the arts firmly in heart and mind.
One thing which has warmed our hearts is observing what we always knew to be true – that arts and culture play a vital and essential role in so many peoples’ lives, now more than ever before. They play a huge part in keeping people connected, engaged, entertained and inspired…be that through watching a livestream of a production, binge watching a series on Netflix or listening to music. Debry Theatre has been busy making sure we are offering all we can to help makes these times easier for all. Here are some highlights of what’s happened so far.
For audiences and tickets holders, we have: offered full refunds on existing bookings for cancelled performances, or the chance to use credit against a future production; launched DT@Home, a digital platform for audiences to access a wealth of free content on our website and social media platforms, with current and upcoming content including new mini plays, family activities, Memory Box (delving into the Theatre’s archive to re-live and remember some of Derby Theatre’s most popular productions, plus new, self-filmed content from some of the actors who appeared in them); streams, webcasts, digital workshops, showcasing community-related projects (including content which is accessible via BSL and captioning); plus sharing and signposting towards other arts-related opportunities. We are also committed to keeping audiences updated as soon as possible on the re-opening of the Theatre and future productions and events. The Theatre is also working hard on planning to ensure the Theatre is, and feels, safe for when audiences return in the future.
For the artist community, along with In Good Company, the artist development programme for the Midlands which is led by Derby Theatre, we have/will: commissioned theatre makers to make new work for our audiences to view online, ensuring artists are paid, in line with our ethos to support artists; hosted briefings and Zoom calls to connect
with freelancers and venues, so theatre makers can be a part of how we emerge from this crisis; developed a series of online workshops to enable artists to keep training, supported emergency funding applications and conducted Off the Record chats with artists to offer support, supported the emergence of an East Midlands Artists Emergency Fund and offered information and advice on self-isolation, social distancing, working from home, how to pay the mortgage, therapy and self-employment rights.
For our students, in partnership with the University of Derby, we have/will: moved to online lectures (through our lecturer colleagues based at the Theatre) with the ongoing provision of support from theatre staff, worked directly with lecturers and students on the progress and development of theatre-related projects, so no creative momentum is lost, posted virtual Open Days and online taster days, and the sharing and signposting to various support and guidance.
For care leavers, through our Plus One scheme, we have kept connected with the young people who have lived in care and are now navigating the world on their own. These young people are involved in the project via weekly visits, made by staff members, to drop off care parcels to each of them which include food, recipes, activity packs and reading materials. We join them for online weekly cooking lessons, an online book club and we keep connected with them to ensure they know they are not alone.
For schools, through our learning team, we have visited selected schools in low socio economic areas in the city to deliver workshops and other arts related activities, offered to young people who are still in school at this time. Schools have also been offered refunds or credit on cancelled performances. We also commit to maintaining our close relationship with schools, keeping them updated as soon as possible on the re-opening of the Theatre and the re-introduction of schools-related activities and workshops.
For our team, we have made a commitment to pay our full time staff in full for as long as possible, and if this stops being possible, to do everything we can to support them, ensured we use Government schemes to support those staff who work for us on a casual basis, such as front of house and in technical; provided opportunities for staff members to connect with their line managers, and other colleagues, on a regular basis (through 1-1s, departmental and full staff meetings online plus weekly wellbeing sessions online); shared details and signposted to a wide range of support and advice including: emotional and mental health well-being, and encouraged our staff team to support different communities and vulnerable people in the region from making scrubs for the NHS to becoming an NHS responder.
For Derby Theatre Friends. Our Friends/members of the Theatre are very important us. Unfortunately, with our theatre closed, we haven’t been able to see our Derby Theatre Friends like we normally would. We also recognise that during this time, many people will be finding themselves in challenging financial situations. With this in mind, we have frozen all of our Friends’ memberships until we re-open. Some of our generous Friends and other audience members also took the opportunity to donate to the Theatre during this time and for that we want to say a huge, unreserved THANK YOU.
Support Derby Theatre…please consider a donation We appreciate everyone has lots to think about at this time, but we are immensely grateful for the donations we have received so far – and would continue to be to anyone who considers donating now or in the coming weeks. We recognise that this time of uncertainty affects everybody differently, but if audience members, supporters, members of the public are in a position to help us remain a vital part of the community, we would be hugely grateful.
And finally… We continue to be in a period of uncertainty, but this has also been a period of embracing exciting new ways of working and connecting with our supporters, and those we work with. We have our minds set firmly on the future! We cannot wait to return to producing and presenting live performance, exploring new ideas and giving audiences great nights out and memorable live experiences. We are planning exciting new productions, fun ways to engage with us in new ways, and exciting projects for you to take part in.