The Space, on the Isle of Dogs, East London, is only just across the river from Broadway Baby’s office. The theatre’s patron, Sir Ian McKellen, lives just a short way upstream. Earlier this year he was integral to their crowd-funding scheme and we have always been pleased to review their shows and write articles in support of the work they do to encourage new writers, theatre groups and pioneering arts events. Hence, we are delighted to report that they have received £27,098 from the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund in the latest round.
In 2020, we were ‘locked down, looking up’, in 2021, thanks to this award we’re coming out of the lockdown, looking forward.
Undeterred by the effects of COVID-19 and despite having to furlough the majority of their staff in April 2020, The Space launched Locked Down, Looking Up, an online programme of new play readings, workshops and performances, made possible by funding from the Arts Council’s Emergency Grants. From May to August 2020, it supported over 180 freelance theatre makers, entertained over 2,000 audience members and gained the theatre four OnComm awards.
The story of The Space under lockdown is testimony to the impact funding measures have had on theatres. The first round enabled The Space to take staff off furlough and re-open in the short October window. Realising the probable nature of theatre for the foreseeable future, they were able to invest in live-streaming equipment and continue to deliver performances, workshops, online networking and support sessions and to nurture new material.
Live-streaming of performances from their venue, in adherence with all COVID-19 safety guidelines, has been in place since February of this year. With this latest tranche of funding they can now retain all staff and continue with their regular activities of developing new work and putting on productions, as witnessed by their programme for the spring season. Artistic Director of the Space Adam Hemming has announced that ‘this will include a festival of four new plays developed in 2020, three audio plays commissioned by the Space to accompany a visual art exhibition, a Global Majority Symposium including workshops, discussions and events and a window for playwrights to submit new work to the ScriptSpace programme’.
Celebrating the new funding and expressing his gratitude for all the support received from the Arts Council and DCMS, Adams said, “We will use the latest award to underline our commitment to delivering high quality performances and expand our reach to benefit more artists and the public that we both serve. In 2020, we were ‘locked down, looking up’, in 2021, thanks to this award we’re coming out of the lockdown, looking forward.”