At The Place, the funding we received helped us balance our budget and cover our initial deficit from the loss of our public programmes (our theatre shows and dance classes). Thanks to this funding we were able to take the time to re-evaluate our priorities, create a more sustainable business model to ensure our financial viability and minimise the long-term impact of the pandemic. To build a strong resilient and adaptive organisation, we created new ways to support our students, artistic community and participants, developed new programmes to engage with our audiences and make performance happen in the pursuit of our mission to power imagination through dance.
Turning our attention to our most vulnerable group, we started by re-imaging ways to support our students in ensuring continuity in their studies by delivering London Contemporary Dance School’s curriculum entirely online, and we developed resources and new ways of working to support our communities.
For our artist support, which is at the very core of our work, we funded modified programmes enabling artists to continue to develop their work and create new ideas through remote residencies, gathering feedback through online sharings, share ideas and practices through online conferences and develop skills through a series of online workshops.
For our local community and outreach work, we developed modified support content for our Partner Schools Programme (14 schools across Camden) bespoke to their needs, including 6 free recorded creative dance films to keep pupils active and dancing at home. We also used our funds to bring back our annual Family Dance Day at Coram’s Fields, providing free family activity for Camden families.
Our Classes and Courses were also moved solely online and this fund allowed us to improve technical delivery quality, create extra on-demand courses and provide for more participants across the country.
Our theatre programme was preserved by 3 micro-festivals programmes over the spring that may have looked very different from our usual season but held - at their heart - the same spirit of curiosity, surprise and relevance that would usually characterise our theatre offering. We were able to provide employment opportunities for our artistic community who, mostly depending on freelance contracts, were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Not only were we able to fund modified programmes across the board and look after our community through this fund, but it also allowed us to offer these opportunities in an affordable way (either free of charge, pay-what-you can or highly subsidised) at a time of great hardship and financial uncertainty for all.
Internally this fund was used to look after our staff in increasing the health and safety provision within our building (which remained in use all through the pandemic by skeleton staff and students), to increase provision of mental health support and to allow additional support for those working from home.
CRF also allowed us to invest in our digital infrastructure to successfully deliver our new online programmes. We upgraded our Wi-Fi, purchased new technical equipment to support streaming capabilities and digital output creation and developed staffing structures to deliver those programmes with a new role of Digital Projects Manager and a re-shuffling of digital responsibilities across the organisation.
The fund has achieved a lot for our sector so far, and other schemes and organisations have supported individuals, but many people have lost work or had to leave their creative career entirely and the sector is poorer as a result. We endeavour to work side by side with freelancers and partners to build our way back toward a more equitable future together.