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Director’s Blog July 2020

What a month it’s been since I last wrote to you. We’ve been mentioned in the House of Commons, delivered our youth sessions online and have seen phenomenal progress on our construction site. Whilst the easing of lockdown restrictions bring welcome relief, for many there is still uncertainty ahead and I hope you all continue to keep safe and well.

We may be closed, but our small team on the ground are as busy as ever. Last month, we supported several local performers and freelancers in submitting successful emergency funding applications to a range of funders, including Arts Council England. We’ve hosted an online drama conference for 19 drama and performing arts teachers across Cornwall, and have continued online sessions with our youth dance and theatre groups. Many of our young people have shared their experiences and difficulties during lockdown in our weekly blog (do read their stories here) and we’re pleased to be able to offer them and their families, a space online to support their creativity and well-being.

We are grateful to hear the recent news that HM Treasury has pledged significant investment to support theatres, museums and galleries. Our industry has been devastated by the impact of COVID-19 and, alongside friends and colleagues across the UK and overseas, we’re passionate about its survival.

Like many major construction sites across the country, work on our transformation project has been affected by government restrictions introduced to reduce the spread of the coronavirus which pushed back our reopening to next year. This extension of time to our project has, inevitably, brought additional costs and, whilst we wait to see how this vital lifeline to support our industry will be distributed, the whole team are working hard behind the scenes to ensure our project can be successfully delivered in as timely and cost effective way as possible.

Whilst the pandemic has brought an unexpected turn of events, as it has for us all, there is opportunity for us to take some time to reflect and plan for when we do reopen our doors and welcome you all back next year.

We have no past experience to draw upon for a situation like this and thus, recently, partnered with UK Theatre to hear your views on the current situation and attending live events again at some point in the future. Thanks to all of you who took the the time to fill out our survey. I’ve read all of your responses which will inform our future planning, as well as being added to responses from all over the UK to inform a national picture.

Despite current challenges, it’s an exciting time to be on site. Do come inside and take a quick look around by clicking here to watch our new film, narrated by BBC Radio 3 presenter and Cornishman Petroc Trelawny, and featuring recent footage of the works inside the theatre.

As you will see from the film and the picture above, our theatre is changing in front of our eyes and our new auditorium is taking shape. On the new balcony and circle levels, the scaffolding has been removed before the oak floor is laid and the carpenters start constructing the tiers for the seating. Behind the scenes, final choices are being made for the finishes – from the seating fabric to the wood stain, bar designs to paint colours. We’ve even sat in one of the new auditorium seats and we’ll be sharing pictures with you soon!  We can’t wait to show you the results – we’re as impatient as you are to fling open our doors and welcome you all in.

As always, we remain humbled by your kind messages of support and once again thank those who are championing our charity and the arts by naming a seat in our brand new auditorium. If you or your friends are able to invest in our future at this time, please visit our website, or see below for further information on how you can purchase a seat dedication in our new auditorium.

So many of you worked hard to open our doors in 1997 and we’ve continued to serve and support our community. We’re proud of the audience we’ve grown, the connections we’ve built, the talent we’ve developed and the scope of work we’ve created and brought into Cornwall – for everyone to enjoy. As our local MP for Falmouth and Truro stated in the House of Commons last week, ‘Hall For Cornwall is a fantastic theatre on the brink of completion, serving the whole of Cornwall and acting as a beacon for the arts for the whole county’.

I can assure you that together we WILL make our theatre a place our county truly deserves where everyone – regardless of background, interest or experience – can come together and dream big again.

Take care, stay safe and see you soon.

Julien Boast

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Reopening Rescheduled to earliest Spring 2021

In June 2018, we closed the doors of our building to create a new space to match our ambitions. Recent work on our redevelopment had moved forward with great strides, with the digging out of the foundations for the new air conditioning system completed and the laying of timber decking at circle and balcony levels prepared for the new tiered seating to be installed. Beyond the auditorium, the Hall’s beauty was being unveiled and restored as decades of paint were removed to reveal the original granite walls.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on theatres and live performance venues across the UK and with social isolation measures likely to be in place for some time, it is uncertain whether any will reopen this year. Our redevelopment had a temporary pause last month as Kier reviewed its procedures to comply with the Construction Leadership Council’s Operating Procedures, which reflect the Government’s instructions.  Whilst work has now restarted and care and responsibility of the team are the priority, the pause, as a result of lockdown, brings an inevitable delay with our proposed reopening, which is now scheduled for Spring 2021 at the earliest.

This situation is fast-moving and dynamic. Progress is being monitored closely and is under continuous review. We are continuing to develop exciting plans for our inaugural season and the great news is that we still have major theatre producers calling to arrange dates in the programme.  We are looking forward to sharing these with you later in the year when tickets will begin to go on sale.

Julien Boast, Hall For Cornwall’s CEO and Creative Director comments “This is obviously a very challenging time for everyone with ever-changing circumstances impacting all our lives.

“All theatres are fighting for their futures at the moment and, whilst the safety and welfare of everyone are the priority, we must not forget the many pledges already made to fund our redevelopment. At the same time members of our young people’s companies and community projects have been working hard to offer performances and prepare for the moment when they can take their careers further in our new theatre.

He continues ‘We are in close communication with our core stakeholders and funders, who are very supportive and exploring ways with us to ensure the project will continue to be successfully delivered.

“Like many other charities across the country COVID 19 is presenting us with significant challenges we need to overcome and we have been overwhelmed by the incredible messages of support we have received from members of the public during the past few weeks. A huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time to contact us.

“We are seriously impatient to reopen our theatre, to show off its potential and to welcome our loyal audiences again and again to all the fun, amazement and emotion that we will all share – when we are through this – together”.

Co-chair of Hall For Cornwall’s trustees, Chris Pomfret OBE commented: ”Without Hall For Cornwall the region’s creative spirit, energy and drive would be drastically affected, as would the economic impact it delivers to Cornwall.  When we can safely come together again, our new theatre will be a truly aspirational building where communities and creative talent unite to celebrate and innovate. We thank all the community for their continued support during these unprecedented times”.

 

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In memory of Alexander Patrick CBE

Everyone at Hall For Cornwall was saddened to hear of the death of Alexander Patrick CBE, DL on 18 April.

Alex, together with his wife, Val, had been a close friend and supporter of ours for many years. He championed the arts in Cornwall and was passionate about our transformation, which he knew would help young people realise a brighter future through live performance. Alongside this, his commitment to widening access provision, means that our vision will absolutely ensure diverse audiences both on stage and off.

Alex understood the power of collective change and encouraged many others to donate through his major contribution to our Big Give Christmas Challenges. We will always be indebted to him. He leaves a lasting legacy, not only for his investment in our future, but for his immeasurable support of the arts both within Cornwall and across the UK.

Our thoughts are with Val and his family at this time.

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Message from the CEO April 2020

Dear friends and supporters,

I hope this message finds you and your families safe and well.

In June 2018, we closed the doors of our building to create a new space to match our ambitions and I was poised to write to you with an update as we had started to count down the days to unveiling our beautiful new theatre.

As I write now, works on our site have just started up again following a temporary pause as our construction team Kier continue to review and adapt its procedures to the ever changing circumstances that we find impacting all our lives. At this time, the safety and welfare of everyone is the priority.

When we dimmed the lights at the start of our transformation, we promised a new theatre as the beating heart of community life in the city, bringing exciting opportunities and growth for Cornwall. That vision burns bright and when all of this is over, we will have a fabulous new venue.

We’ve worked with passion, grit and gusto over the past three years to raise over £20.2 million towards our transformation. As a charity, we have been overwhelmed by your support and kindness, particularly in the last week. I would like to say a personal thank you to each of you who have been able to donate, volunteer for our heritage projects, attended our community presentations, chosen to name a seat in our new auditorium, and been part of our youth and community programmes. Your engagement is critical at this time and especially, when like many arts organisations and charities, we are having to re-think or pause all activity for the time being.

Over the coming weeks and months, our focus will be on supporting our staff to ensure that the dedicated work on our transformation project will continue at pace, as and when we are able. We will certainly keep you posted as we know more and will be asking for all your support in the near future as we launch a public campaign to help get our building open as soon as we can.

We are seriously impatient to re-open our doors again; to show it all off to you and welcome you again and again to all the fun, amazement and emotion that we will all share – together.

In the meantime, please take care and stay safe.

With best wishes

Julien Boast

 

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Director’s Christmas Update – Hear Ye, Hear Ye, What a Year of Transformation!

We’ve been thinking about the amazing things that have happened in 2019, the year Hall For Cornwall truly began to transform. It has been a big year, with an even bigger one just around the corner.

In September our Patron, HRH The Earl of Wessex, stopped by to see the work on our new theatre, as it starts to become reality. With 300 more seats in a three-tiered auditorium, the new space is paving the way for shows on a whole new scale.

Our unveiled heritage, lively bars and cafés and creative digital hub – with vibrant work and social spaces – will put us back into the heart of our city’s community. It was exciting to share our plans with the Earl and see he shares our belief in the power of performance and the next generation of Cornish talent.

Work on our transformation project has moved forward with great strides. The steelwork structure is now up for the new auditorium and it is astonishing to see the vision come to life before our very eyes. We can now stand in the centre of the new dress circle and lean over from the balcony to admire the stage views of our new space. Overhead, the theatre lighting bridges and technical spaces high up in the roof are poised to be installed. Outside, Boscawen Hall’s beauty is being unveiled and restored back to its original beauty as decades of paint are removed to reveal the original granite walls. Truro’s iconic clock tower is getting some much-needed love and attention ensuring it is able to stand for another 100 years.

This year, too, Sir Tim Rice became our Honorary President. A real inspiration to our performers and audience, his lyrics for stage and film musicals have told some of the world’s most famous stories. We’re very excited and lucky to have him on board.

We’re incredibly proud of our youth dance and theatre groups, who work so hard and shine so bright. This year members of our Youth Theatre group were invited to close the prestigious 2019 National Theatre Connections Festival, and our dancers took their talent to the streets for Truro’s City of Lights parade. Two former students won places at top national dance and drama schools, and we formed a new All Boys Dance group and musical theatre classes.

We’ve worked passionately for the last three years to raise just over 93% of the £21.6million we need, for Cornwall’s new theatre. And we’re keeping all pistons firing to hit our target before first curtain rise in the Autumn.

Early January 2020, we will launch This Seat Counts – our community campaign invites you to name a seat in our new auditorium, and pass on the passion of theatre, music and dance. It’s a chance to mark a memory or create a unique gift for someone special, and every donation will support our major transformation which will enable the vital youth, schools and local talent programmes we run throughout Cornwall. We also asked you to nominate someone special in your community to have a seat named after them. There were hundreds of nominations and, in the New Year, we’ll showcase and celebrate the six people our judges have chosen.

The National Heritage Lottery Fund meant our Revealing City Hall project could happen, sharing the hidden stories of our history-rich building. We’ve also been raising funds with a sponsored run at the Eden project and fancy dress for Love Theatre Day. Recently, we joined forces with the community for a night of pure Christmas joy at Truro’s Royal Cornwall Museum.

Finally, we were blown away when our local community raised £100,000 in six days for this year’s The Big Give Christmas Challenge. Thanks doesn’t begin to cover it – especially when it comes to HFC patron Alex Patrick, who donated £25,000 to the Challenge. All the money raised by the Big Give will be used to support our plans to provide a brighter future for Cornwall’s young people, through the power of performance.

The re-opening’s less than 12 months away and I know that you, like me, can’t wait to walk through our shiny new doors. We’re making sure that when you do, you’ll be coming to see our most exciting programme yet – with shows to welcome the old crowd back and shows to attract a whole new one.

Keep your eyes open for our first announcements, and look out for our open day in the new year, for a first peek at what’s to come. We can’t wait to see you all again next year.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

Guest post by Jake Conway (HFC Hospitality Manager)

Christmas dinner is probably the biggest event of the year for my family, yet planning and preparing for the occasion can be a tough – catering for Brussel sprout-hating children, the solo vegetarian and an uncle who would rather have roast beef can be a nightmare. Getting the wines right is not entirely straightforward either!

If you’re not sure about which wine to drink at Christmas, you’re not alone. New research shows that 39% of Brits are confused about whether they should drink red or white wine with their turkey dinner. But I have come up with a solution for you – have both! However, the type of trimmings, as well as individual tastes, need to be considered when it comes to choosing what to serve alongside your turkey. For me, the most important factors to consider are…

• Match the Weight of both the food and wine. Full-bodied wines complement heavy, rich foods.
• Match the Flavour Intensity of both (full flavours like Sauvignon Blanc and asparagus) and also consider the wine’s Fruit Character (the raspberry flavours in Pinot Noir complement duck the same way a delicious fruit sauce would)
• Match or complement Acidity in wine and food (high-acid wines like Muscadet and Sauvignon Blanc complement fatty foods the same way lemon cuts the greasiness of smoked salmon)
• The more Texture a food has (fatty food like duck, chewy like steak) the more Tannin the wine should have e.g. Malbec or Chianti.

After plenty of hard research, I have decided there is only one country that really shines when it comes to the best Christmas wine…. Spain! One of my favourite Spanish producers is Bodegas Santalba’s and their Ermita de San Felices selection. Run by a father and son team, Bodegas Santalba is situated 4km from Haro, the ‘capital of Rioja’. Now in their 15th year of production, they produce between 50,000 – 65,000 9 litre cases per year. Approximately 2,000 of those are certified organic and all their grapes are hand harvested and sealed under natural cork produced in NW Spain.

The white: Ermita de San Felices Rioja Blanco (Bodegas Santalba). If you haven’t heard of white Rioja you’re missing out. Grown in the heart of the Rioja region, it has a very fruity aroma with sweet overtones resulting from good quality Viura grapes. Well structured, good acidity and a long finish. This wine is a perfect match for your turkey and pigs in blankets!

And the red: Ermita de San Felices Rioja Reserva (Bodegas Santalba). The added age of this Reserva gives this much-loved wine an extra couple of layers of complexity. Light, elegant with plenty of summer-pudding red berry fruit. Light oak adds weight and concentration. This is a real treat for you red wine lovers.

Both of these wines are available from our local drinks supplier and corporate supporter, St Austell Brewery http://bit.ly/1IdaIal

If you are confused about whether to drink red or white wine with your Christmas dinner this year, then don’t worry, there is no right or wrong answer – it’s all about personal preference. All you have to do is decide whether you prefer red or white – or both!