We hope you and your loved ones are safe, well and happy at present.
For those of us at Derby Theatre, these have been truly extraordinary times, like they have been for everyone. 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, whilst doing all we can to support and stay connected with our audiences and team.
It is incredibly important to us 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, re-prioritise 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.
The arts play a huge part in keeping people connected, engaged, entertained and inspired. Derby Theatre has been busy making sure we are offering all we can to help make these times easier for all.
Here are some highlights of what’s happened so far…
Audience and ticket holders.
First things first, we offered full refunds on existing bookings for cancelled performances, or the chance to receive credit to use against a future production.
Over 50% of those we contacted, either opted for credit for the future or donated their ticket value to us. THANK YOU!
We are consulting with various organisations and experts to ensure the Theatre is, and feels, safe for when audiences return in the future.
We recently launched DT@Home, a platform to access a wealth of free content on our website and social media platforms (including our Deaf Events and Opportunities Facebook page).
Current and upcoming content includes new mini plays written just for you, family activities and Memory Box show content that delves into the Theatre’s archive to re-live and remember some of Derby Theatre’s most popular productions, plus new content from the actors who appeared in them.
We are releasing streams and webcasts, digital workshops and showcasing community projects past and present, plus sharing and signposting towards other arts-related opportunities and a commitment to keep updated on when we will re-open and future productions and events.
The Artist Community
Along with In Good Company, the artist development programme for the Midlands led by Derby Theatre, we have/will:
1) Commissioned theatre makers to make new work for our audiences to view online. We have ensured this work is properly paid and not asked artists to work for free.
2) Hosted briefings and Zoom calls to connect freelancers and venues, so theatre makers can be a part of how we emerge from this crisis.
3) Developed a series of online workshops so artists can keep training and we have supported emergency funding applications.
4) Conducted Off the Record chats with artists to offer support and supported the emergence of an East Midlands Artists Emergency Fund.
Offered information and advice on self-isolation, social distancing, working from home, how to pay the mortgage, therapy and self-employment rights, and shared key updates from industry bodies to those artists who may not be linked into the national debates.
For our Students
In partnership with the University of Derby, we have/will:
1) Moved to online lectures (through our lecturer colleagues based at the Theatre) with the ongoing provision of support from theatre staff.
2) Worked directly with students on the progress and development of theatre-related projects, in partnership with the University, so no creative momentum is lost.
3) Provided free access to a range of digital content, including a vlog aimed at prospective students from our Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Sarah Brigham.
4) Hosted virtual Open Days, blogs from current students, theatre staff 3-minute videos, talking about their roles and online taster days – and the sharing and signposting to various support and guidance.
If you have a question regarding our learning programme please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 still need to be in school at this time and who are in receipt of free school meals.
Schools have also been offered refunds or credit on cancelled performances.
If you have a question regarding our work or support for schools please email email@example.com.
1) Made a commitment to pay our full time staff in full for as long as possible, and when this stops being possible, to do everything we can to support them.
2) Ensured we use Government schemes to support those staff who work for us on a casual basis such as on the bar or in the café.
3) 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).
4) Shared details and signposting to a wide range of support and advice including: emotional and mental health well-being, money advice etc.
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 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 reopen.
Some of our generous friends also took the opportunity to donate during this time and for that we want to say an huge, unreserved THANK YOU.
If you have a question about your membership please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate you have lots to think about at this time, but we would be really grateful if you would consider donating to Derby Theatre.
Support Derby Theatre – Please Consider a Donation
We recognise that this time of uncertainty affects everybody differently, but if you are in a position to help us remain a vital part of the community, we would be hugely grateful.
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, and we also have our minds set firmly on the future!
We cannot wait to return to producing and presenting live performance and giving you a great night out. We are planning exciting new productions, fun ways to engage with us in new ways, and exciting projects for you to take part in.
We look forward to welcoming you back to Derby Theatre after this ‘interval’.
For now, thank you for your ongoing support, take care, keep in touch and we look forward to seeing you soon.
From all at Derby Theatre