The Corn Exchange Newbury has today announced its reopening plans for the autumn season, which will include outdoor performances, films, workshops and classes.
The outdoor programme starts on Saturday 22 August with a performance by Gorilla Circus on their giant trapeze rig for a socially distanced audience, and then from Wednesday 16 to Tuesday 22 September, Luke Jerram will present In Memorium, a large-scale outdoor installation to honour those who have lost their lives and to pay tribute to the NHS health and care workers who have been risking theirs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Corn Exchange building will reopen on Saturday 5 September with a performance of Unlocked and Unbolted, a new performance written and directed by Bryn Holding to reflect the thoughts and feelings of young people during the lockdown period. Inspired by a series of online conversations, an ensemble of young performers aged 16 – 21 will present this physically distanced performance, either to a socially distanced audience or as a broadcast to be watched from home, depending on the current guidelines for the theatre industry.
From Monday 7 September the Corn Exchange will present a programme of films with screenings taking place in both the cinema and the main auditorium. There will also be a range of broadcasts screened, including popular NT Live titles, musicals, ballet and opera. With a significantly reduced capacity, spaces will be left between groups to ensure social distancing and full details of the film programme will be announced later in August.
The Learning Centre will also reopen, offering plenty of ways for people to take part in creative activities with its courses and workshops. Sessions will be delivered in a variety of formats with some taking place in person with reduced numbers and adhering to social distancing, some will be delivered live on line, and some will be a combination of the two.
Katy Griffiths, Director of the Corn Exchange, says, ‘We are very excited to be welcoming audiences back this autumn, initially with a programme of film, outdoor performances and creative workshops. Our programme of events will naturally look a little different from usual but there are plenty of activities, some in person and some digital, for all ages to enjoy. We know the arts have a positive impact on people in our community, and we can’t wait to give our audiences a warm welcome back to our buildings’
She went on to explain ‘Although the theatre industry have been told that (subject to successful trials) live indoor performances can soon go ahead with a socially distanced audience, we are still waiting for news on when a fuller audience might be possible. While 2 metre social distancing is required, our auditorium capacity is reduced to around 30% and although the whole creative workforce can’t wait to be back at work, for most productions this reduction in ticket income just isn’t affordable – especially with the increased costs for all the extra health and safety precautions currently required.’
‘The whole industry is looking for new ways to present performances safely. Throughout our closure, we have been working with producers and promoters to explore which of our live events can take place safely for audiences and artists. We will continue to communicate with those customers who have tickets booked, and we hope to have more guidance soon on when live shows and of course our annual pantomime will be possible.’
Over the summer the Corn Exchange is continuing to work on projects with the local community. Last week it launched Contactless Creativity, which will see a different artist each week prepare an activity pack. These will be available as downloads or, for those without access to the internet, there is the option of having a pack delivered to your door by one of a team of volunteers. The first delivery will take place in early August and is being prepared by local artist Helen Mortimer. This project has been funded by the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund. To sign up to have a Contactless Creativity Pack delivered, please call 01635 582666 or e-mail email@example.com.
Berkshire Community Fund has kindly supported two projects which will be taking place over the summer. Assisted living facilities have the opportunity to have four free Singing for Wellbeing sessions for their residents during August while parents and carers of those aged 4 – 11 years can sign up for the Raising Wellbeing Warriors course which begins on Tuesday 18 August. This free course comprises of six digital workshops which offer support, creative activities and information about wellbeing for them and their families, with a particular emphasis on the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown. For more information on these projects or to sign up please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01635 582666 or visit www.cornexchangenew.com.
Further details about booking and on sale dates will be released soon. Please visit www.cornexchangenew.com for more information.