We caught up with Chloé Nelkin, who is the Director of Chloé Nelkin Consulting, an arts PR, marketing and consulting agency with extensive knowledge of the arts, and has worked with a range of organisations across public and private sectors.
What were the first things you had to do after hearing that announcement that the theatres had to close?
Once I digested the news properly, I checked in with the CNC team and our clients. We were already working from home and we needed to make action plans for the next couple of weeks as everybody in theatre has been terribly affected. Then I poured a very large glass of cold white wine.
How are you finding working from home?
While I love being in my office, I really don’t mind working from home – though if you ask me the same question in a couple of months, I may have a different response. I’m lucky to live in an area with lots of independent shops and am surrounded by gorgeous places to walk such as Waterlow Park and Parkland Walk.
I make sure to have a routine when I’m working from home, just as I would in the office. I get up and set up my work station. I’m trying to keep a close eye on my posture and make sure not to stay seated all day. Little regular walks, even just around the room, really help. I’m also having a lot of video calls as it’s nice to still see people.
What do you think about the theatre industry putting out live streams and pre-recordings of shows?
I think it’s fantastic how the industry has risen to the challenge of theatres closing. Audiences still want to watch theatre and the arts community still want to create work and support each other. The live streams and digital outputs are a brilliant way to keep the industry ticking along.
If you’ve seen any theatre shows streamed online recently could you recommend one to our readers, or one you are planning on watching?
I’d recommend everyone takes a look at HighTide Lighthouse Programme and their Love In The Time of Corona monologues. These five new monologues have been created by five of the UK’s most exciting writers: BAFTA nominee Dawn King, Olivier Award nominee Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Ben Weatherill (Jellyfish, Bush Theatre and National Theatre, now in development with BBC), Aisha Zia (No Guts No Heart No Glory, national tour, BBC4, Fringe First Award winner) and Debris Stevenson (Poet In Da Corner, Royal Court and national tour, Evening Standard Best Newcomer nominee). All five writers are currently developing plays for Suba Das’s inaugural HighTide Festival in 2021 so that’s something exciting for us to look ahead to next year.
What advice have you already given to companies in the arts and heritage industry?
We’ve been telling everybody to remember that this situation will end. It’s a very troubling time for us all but we are going to come out of this and it’s important, for our mental health, not to get bogged down in the bad stuff. I know there are a lot of companies who don’t feel they can currently see a way through but it will end; the theatres will reopen and the arts will come out stronger.
What advice have you got for those companies who are still working out what this means for them?
We’re reminding everyone that they’re not alone. It’s easy to say ‘think positive’ but it doesn’t mean it’s any less essential. We find ourselves in such strange and troubling times and it is easy to get absorbed in negativity. Try to be a part of the conversation and make the most of the supportive community who surround you.
What advice do you have for recent graduates just starting out in the arts and heritage industry?
Keep going. Don’t be put off. It’s a very tough time to be joining an industry that’s just been blown apart but, once again, this is not forever. The uncertainty is very scary for everyone but the arts will come out fighting and then there will be an amazing industry for you to join. Use this time to try to make connections and learn from people already in the industry who are offering amazing advice and skill-swaps on social media.
We have seen that lots of self-employed people in the arts and heritage industry have taken up jobs in supermarkets, what are your thoughts on this?
I think it’s great that people have taken positive steps to find employment during this time. Supermarkets are essential and their staff are working around the clock so the more helping hands the better. Plus, putting aside the monetary aspect of this, it’s just good to be doing things and not just sitting thinking about the current situation.
What is your best advice for staying positive at this time?
As I said, remember that this situation will end. Take this time to look after yourself – make sure to take your one walk a day. Consider joining an online fitness class, read that book you’ve never quite got around to, learn a new skill, video chat with your friends and family. And, don’t spend all day doom-scrolling on social media.
Anything else you would like to say or add?
We are trying to lend as much support as possible to our past and present clients and have been really touched by the support and kind words they are showing us. Many of the people we’ve worked with have become close friends and I’m so moved that everyone in our CNC network is looking out for each other, however they can.