After a long year of adversity and hardship, The Place Bedford is thriving again and looking forward to welcoming audiences back to the venue.
Having secured Cultural Recovery Funding, The Place team have created new roles, welcomed new staff and volunteers and are planning for a more sustainable future.
When the pandemic first hit, the venue went into full lockdown, cancelling shows and putting everything on hold.
Rather than giving up all hope, the creative team got behind innovations in digital theatre, programmed both professional and community events to keep people engaged and worked hard to remain visible as a creative space & artistic event promoter.
The skills acquired by community and professional artists have paved the way for the future of online performances and potential hybrid events as live events restart and evolve to reach new audiences.
The staff and volunteers at the venue met online for virtual coffee every Friday morning and continue to meet now. Colin, a Volunteer Duty Manager, cites these meetings as a great mental health boost over the last year.
“I so look forward to the meetings and it has been a great way to keep in touch with people,” he said.
The decision was made back in Autumn 2020, to develop the smallest car park into a dedicated outdoor theatre space to be used every summer, bringing forward plans they had been working on before COVID hit.
With initial funding secured, there are now a whole host of events planned across the summer.
The Swan Theatre Company has risen to the challenge, with their first-ever outdoor production. They will be bringing Shakespeare’s The Tempest to The Place Theatre’s newly created outside performance space.
Check out the theatre’s website for more information about forthcoming shows, including audience favourites, Lamphouse Theatre, which are hosting a Suitcase Shakespeare Pyjama Picnic.
Two short Shakespeare adaptations will be brought to life by two actors using only what’s in their suitcases. Audiences are encouraged to wear comfy pyjamas and bring their own picnic to enjoy between the shows.
With more added to the programme all the time, there is something for everyone this summer.
But there is more to The Place than just their ticketed events.
They host many community groups and support a variety of youth-focussed projects, as well as organising Table Top sales, weekly storytelling sessions (Wednesday mornings throughout the summer holidays), live music events, treasure hunts and more!
There is plenty to engage people of all ages as they welcome new volunteers, community arts participants, Resident Review writers, Future Arts Leaders, Young Film Programmers, and much more.
The future still remains challenging, but The Place team are working hard to get ready for a return to indoor events from September, ensuring that the venue remains a safe, vibrant and welcoming space for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together, collaborate, create & encounter high quality arts activities.
Says lead producer, Alex Levene: “We’re excited to see what the future holds for both professionals and community creatives as we start to recover from the impact of the past year.
“We’re especially keen to create opportunities for young creatives to work with us and build a sustainable future for arts & culture activities in Bedford.
“No matter what the immediate future holds, we’ll keep doing everything in our power to ensure that these resources and opportunities are available to local people.”
You can find out more at The Place Bedford’s website here.
Advertising feature with The Place Theatre