‘Without this we’d have closed’ - Covid funding saves arts venues

Lost in Translation performers during rehearsals at Oak Circus Centre in Norwich.

Lost in Translation performers during rehearsals at Oak Circus Centre in Norwich. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Pandemic-hit small arts venues in Norwich have been saved from closure by extra funding that has offered a vital lifeline. 

Grants totalling almost £2.5m from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund have been allocated to arts, film and heritage groups across the city to help them survive and recover from the financial impact of coronavirus.

For some smaller arts venues the cash is the difference between staying open or being forced to close. 

Massi Rossetti, director of the Oak Circus Centre, which has been given £26,875, said: “This was absolutely vital. Without this support the centre would have closed.”

The Lost in Translation acrobats with the circus themed GoGoHare Pablo. From left, Tasha Rushbrooke,

The Lost in Translation acrobats with the circus themed GoGoHare Pablo at Oak Circus Centre which would have closed with Covid arts funding. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

“It’s a Grade I-listed building where we run classes and do a lot of activities that we have kept alive.

“But because the capacity inside is really reduced now, also there is also a problem with part of the roof that will further reduce capacity, it would have been a total disaster without this money.” 

Performers will lead public workshops at Oak Street Circus Centre. Photo: Oak Street Circus Centre

Performers will lead public workshops at Oak Street Circus Centre. Photo: Oak Street Circus Centre - Credit: Oak Street Circus Centre


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The centre is also the base for circus performance company Lost in Translation, which was unsuccessful in its bid for funding.

Massimiliano Rossetti, director of Lost In Translation Circus, and Stephen Crocker, chief executive

Massi Rossetti, director of Oak Circus Centre, and Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre, outside the socially distanced Interlude tent last summer. - Credit: Archant

Mr Rossetti said: “Being a touring company it is a little bit more resilient. We were lucky in lots of ways because Lost in Translation would work including partnering up with Norwich Theatre Royal last summer for Interlude and to have our work digitally presented at international festivals.”

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Voodoo Daddy's Showroom on Timberhill, which had just established itself as a live music venue when the pandemic hit, has also been saved from closure after receiving £120,000. 

Owner Mike Baxter said: “We have been trying to find a way to do anything we can to save the venue and there were times we thought it was dead."

Oscar Jerome played at Voodoo Daddy's Showroom in Norwich. Photo: @visualsbycolleen

Oscar Jerome played at Voodoo Daddy's Showroom in Norwich. - Credit: @visualsbycolleen

As well as keeping the venue open the money will help it stream live gigs, hold events and plan for the return of live music by booking artists. 

Other small venues to benefit include Norwich Puppet Theatre which has also been awarded a further £42,000 on top of £84,750 it received last October.

The Show Must Go On will be at Norwich Puppet Theatre on May 25 and 26Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Puppet Theatre which has also been awarded a further £42,000 - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Epic Studios has received £198,900, The Garage £54,974 and the science-based theatre company Curious Directive £55,052.

Sensory theatre company Frozen Light has been awarded £25,000.

In a Facebook post the company said: “This means that during this time we can continue to develop new ways of reaching our audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities who have been some of the hardest hit during this pandemic.”
 

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