Since March, theatres and community arts venues throughout the UK have faced an unprecedented challenge. Forced to close and cancel their shows for the foreseeable, many have lost all and any source of income. Government grants and interventions have helped to stem the negative flow of finances in the short term. But the longer restrictions remain in place, the more precarious the situation becomes for some of our best-loved and locally-valued arts spaces. In fact, some have already been lost in the midst of this pandemic.
My own local theatre has not been immune to this. Yet neither has it stood still during this crisis. It has become a community hub of sorts, as this article from The Guardian explains. It has sought creative solutions to the problems it has faced. Perhaps most importantly, it has embraced the notion that arts and culture are much more than just escapism and entertainment. They contribute to the health and well-being of the nation, as Liam Evans-Ford explains in this article for The Stage.
I received a lovely, handwritten card from Evans-Ford and Tamara Harvey, Executive and Artistic Directors respectively at Theatr Clwyd, the other day. I had contributed something to their Helping Hand Appeal, a bursary scheme designed to assist freelancers in the creative industry. It was a short and simple note thanking me for my donation. One does not expect to receive such a response, let alone a personalised one. It was a touching surprise; a small act of kindness that has spurred me on to publish a poem I first drafted back in April. Since then, it has undergone a few changes as the situation has changed and evolved. I’ve not had the confidence to share it either, until now.
I hope that this poem conveys something of how important our arts venues are; and captures something of their wonderful potential and need for support.
To find out more about the work of Theatr Clwyd, and how to donate, click here.