10 WAYS TO help save Berkshire’s arts scene

Berkshire Life - - INTERVIEW - WORDS: Sarah Rodi

This year has been the most chal­leng­ing of times for theatres across the globe, but there’s lots you can do to help Berkshire venues

En­joy dinner at

Mill at Son­ning

While the the­atre at The Mill at Son­ning re­mains closed, you can help sup­port them by putting your tick­ets on credit. You can also dine in their new river­side res­tau­rant with a de­li­cious à la carte menu de­signed by head chef Mark Pocz-Nagy. The day­time Wa­ter­wheel Bar is open Wed­nes­day to Satur­day, where you can tuck into ar­ti­san cof­fee, home­made cakes and hot bar food. Manag­ing di­rec­tor Sally Hughes said: “Open­ing with­out the shows and in such dif­fi­cult times was an ex­cit­ing but nerver­ack­ing time for The Mill staff. If you have vis­ited us al­ready, thank you so much for sup­port­ing us. If you haven’t tried us yet, please do. We are work­ing very hard to se­cure new dates for our shows.” Do­nate here: box­of­fice. mil­lat­son­ning.com/home/ Sup­port-The-Mill-p200567768

See a live per­for­mance at South Hill Park, Brack­nell “While these still re­main chal­leng­ing times for the arts sec­tor, as a multi-art form venue, South Hill Park was able to plan for a range of so­cially dis­tanced per­for­mances and events through­out the au­tumn,” says chief ex­ec­u­tive Craig Tit­ley. “Cour­ses and work­shops in both the vis­ual and per­form­ing arts re­sumed in Septem­ber and we have put to­gether a pro­gramme of cin­ema screen­ings from Oc­to­ber. We will also present some live mu­sic – jazz, pop­u­lar and clas­si­cal – as well as standup com­edy in the Wilde The­atre in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.”

The bar and res­tau­rant have also re­opened.

South Hill Park has had to post­pone their pan­tomime to 2021, but they are hope­ful that they will be able to of­fer fam­i­lies an ex­cit­ing al­ter­na­tive over the fes­tive sea­son. “At the heart of ev­ery­thing we do we must keep our staff, au­di­ences, tu­tors and per­form­ing artists safe, and have im­ple­mented sev­eral mea­sures to en­sure the site is COVID-19 se­cure and a safe place to visit and work,” adds Craig. “Our abil­ity to par­tially re­open the arts cen­tre is a pos­i­tive step for­ward but it will not be enough to cover the £1.2m an­nual run­ning costs, so our fundrais­ing cam­paign con­tin­ues.”

Do­nate here: south­hill­park.org.uk/do­nate

Watch an old film at the Old Court, Wind­sor

The bar area and the cin­ema have re­opened at the Old Court. “We are tak­ing ad­van­tage of the re­duced num­ber of new film re­leases to in­tro­duce some crit­i­cally ac­claimed for­eign lan­guage films for the first time,” says mar­ket­ing man­ager He­len Ritchie. “All events and films will be held in our au­di­to­rium and the seat­ing will be around so­cially dis­tanced ta­bles with a ta­ble bar ser­vice.” On 3 Oc­to­ber, Berkshire Singer of the Year will be live-streamed as part of the Vir­tual Wind­sor Fes­ti­val and is in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Berkshire Mae­stros. And on 17 Oc­to­ber, Keith James presents a re­flec­tion of the time­less mu­sic of Yusuf/Cat Stevens in the au­di­to­rium. There will also be an arts ex­hi­bi­tion on dis­play of Cyn­thia Barlow-Marrs un­til 14 Oc­to­ber, which will be fol­lowed by Slough Arts So­ci­ety from 15 Oc­to­ber to 25 Novem­ber.

“As a com­mu­nity in­ter­est com­pany we are look­ing at how to en­cour­age dona­tions but have been in­cred­i­bly grate­ful for the sup­port of the lo­cal com­mu­nity in not all re­quest­ing re­funds for films and other events that have had to be resched­uled,” says He­len.

Visit old­court.org

Book tick­ets for the panto at The­atre Royal Wind­sor The­atre Royal Wind­sor is go­ing ahead with its tra­di­tional an­nual pan­tomime this Christ­mas. The­atre Royal Wind­sor’s co-direc­tors Anne-Marie and Jon Wood­ley say: “Af­ter such a dif­fi­cult year for all of us, we have been ab­so­lutely over­whelmed by the sup­port of our au­di­ences and are thrilled to be able to re­pay their kind­ness by find­ing a way to present our much-loved pan­tomime. It goes with­out say­ing that the safety of our au­di­ences, staff and per­form­ers is para­mount and we will be fol­low­ing gov­ern­ment ad­vice at all times en­sur­ing your en­joy­ment and peace of mind. Roll on Cin­derella!”

With so­cially dis­tanced seat­ing in place to en­sure the safety of their au­di­ences, this will limit the usual num­ber of seats avail­able. The­atre Royal Wind­sor be­lieves pan­tomime is such an im­por­tant and beloved fam­ily tra­di­tion, and in a year where so many fam­i­lies might miss out, is adding an ad­di­tional week of per­for­mances so as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble can ex­pe­ri­ence that panto magic. It is also still go­ing ahead with its sea­son star­ring Sir Ian McKellen, fea­tur­ing Ham­let and The Cherry Or­chard – fur­ther de­tails and per­for­mance dates are to be an­nounced.

Visit the­atreroy­al­wind­sor.co.uk

Make a do­na­tion to

The Water­mill

The­atre, Bag­nor

The Water­mill is ask­ing for fi­nan­cial sup­port to help the beau­ti­ful the­atre get back on its feet. It is also pre­sent­ing a lim­ited re­open­ing sea­son fea­tur­ing shows with smaller cast sizes, re­duced ca­pac­ity in­side the au­di­to­rium and so­cially dis­tanced seat­ing. Un­til 17 Oc­to­ber, you can see Blood­shot, a one-man show per­formed by award-win­ning com­poser and ac­tor Si­mon Slater, who moves ef­fort­lessly from ukulele to sax­o­phone with even the odd con­jur­ing trick. And from 21 Oc­to­ber to 21 Novem­ber, watch Lone Flyer: The Last Flight of Amy John­son, a pow­er­ful play about one of the most in­spi­ra­tional women of the 20th cen­tury. Dur­ing this re­open­ing sea­son, they will be serv­ing a twocourse pre-show meal.

Cream teas are avail­able af­ter mat­inée per­for­mances.

The bar will also be open.

Visit water­mill.org.uk

Try a new work­shop at the Corn Ex­change and The Base, New­bury

The Corn Ex­change has re­opened with so­cially dis­tanced per­for­mances, in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar Corn Ex­change Com­edy Club. Their pro­gramme of films has also re­turned, with screen­ings tak­ing place in both the cin­ema and the main au­di­to­rium. There will also be a range of broad­casts screened, in­clud­ing pop­u­lar NT Live ti­tles, mu­si­cals and doc­u­men­taries.

The Base, at Green­ham Busi­ness Park, is also re-open­ing, with an ex­hi­bi­tion cel­e­brat­ing much-loved il­lus­tra­tor Quentin Blake and his 50-year lit­er­ary part­ner­ship with John Yeo­man. The ded­i­cated work­shop space, The Look­out Stu­dio, has a wide range of work­shops on of­fer, in­clud­ing wil­low-weav­ing, lino-print­ing, glass-fus­ing and jew­ellery-mak­ing, as well as fes­tive in­spired work­shops, such as cre­at­ing Christ­mas can­dle hold­ers, wire robins and knit­ting a fes­tive wreath. Young vis­i­tors

aged seven to 12 can take in­spi­ra­tion in the ex­hi­bi­tion in the Cre­ate Your Own Comic Book Char­ac­ter course in Novem­ber.

Katy Griffiths, di­rec­tor of the Corn Ex­change New­bury, which also runs ac­tiv­i­ties at

The Base, says: “The team, our artists and prac­ti­tion­ers have worked hard be­hind the scenes to pre­pare for re­open­ing and this new sea­son of events. We know the arts has a pos­i­tive im­pact on our com­mu­nity and we can’t wait to wel­come vis­i­tors back once again.”

Visit cornex­changenew.com

Plan a 2021 night out through Read­ing Arts

The Hexagon has post­poned the 2020/21 pan­tomime, how­ever it will re­turn for the Christ­mas sea­son in 2021/22. Steve

Bo­den, manag­ing di­rec­tor of the Imag­ine The­atre, says: “We are dis­ap­pointed that we will be un­able to stage the pan­tomime in the Hexagon this Christ­mas but are de­lighted that this is only a tem­po­rary post­pone­ment and that Justin Fletcher and Paul Morse will star in Beauty and the Beast in De­cem­ber 2021.” All ex­ist­ing tick­ets will trans­fer over to the rel­e­vant 2021/2022 per­for­mances where pos­si­ble.

Book for fu­ture shows, such as Diversity live at The Hexagon in April 2021. Read­ing Arts is also live stream­ing events. You can be­come a mem­ber and be a part of Read­ing Arts’ ex­cit­ing fu­ture, plus you can buy gift vouch­ers.

Read­ing Mu­seum has of­fi­cially re­opened too with a time-slot book­ing sys­tem on­line.

Spon­sor a seat at Nor­den Farm, Maiden­head

Af­ter five long months of clo­sure, The Farm doors are back open and some events and work­shops are back up and run­ning. You can also en­joy a so­cially dis­tanced drink and bite to eat in the Café Bar. Jane Corry, chief ex­ec­u­tive and artis­tic di­rec­tor, said: “The fu­ture is un­cer­tain and ev­er­chang­ing. None of us can be sure of what the world will be like in even a week’s time... The fate of Nor­den Farm is de­pen­dent on the con­tin­u­a­tion of sup­port from you, our Nor­den Farm-ily. The many kind­nesses you’ve shown The Farm through­out this cri­sis has given us hope.”

If you want to help, name a seat in the Court­yard The­atre for your fam­ily, for a friend or for you. You can also sign up to be a mem­ber of The Farm.

Visit nor­den.farm/pages/ sup­port-us

Visit the sculp­ture ex­hi­bi­tion at

Arlington Arts

Arlington Arts has been lucky enough to be able to re­open in Septem­ber. Gen­eral man­ager Emily McAuley says: “We have our first live mu­sic gig on 25 Septem­ber, Big Boss Man. So­cial dis­tanc­ing mea­sures have been put in place, in­clud­ing e-tick­ets, one-way sys­tems and stag­gered en­try times, so cus­tomers can come and en­joy an evening of live mu­sic in a safe en­vi­ron­ment.

“We are also de­lighted to be sup­port­ing lo­cal dance school ACE Dance Stu­dios and VoxFresh Choir, as they both re­quired tem­po­rary homes to run their weekly timeta­bles.

“Fi­nally, we wel­come lo­cal artists Paul Forsey and Jim Crock­att with their ex­hi­bi­tion, Struc­tures of Faith.

“There will be more chal­lenges to over­come as we move into the sea­son – how­ever, we are ready to move for­ward, so can con­tinue to en­ter­tain the com­mu­nity and sup­port Mary Hare School.”

Visit arlington-arts.com/ keep­ing-you-safe

Join a dig­i­tal event at West Berkshire Mu­seum, New­bury

Grade I listed multi-pur­pose event venue Shaw House is back open for out­door per­for­mances and ex­hi­bi­tions. Its open-air sculp­ture ex­hi­bi­tion, Al­tered States, runs un­til late Septem­ber. You can also join a dig­i­tal event at West Berkshire Mu­seum. A spokesper­son for West Berkshire Her­itage says: “Your dona­tions are grate­fully re­ceived and now, more than ever, they play a vi­tal role in help­ing us to main­tain our his­toric build­ings, con­serve and de­velop our col­lec­tions and pro­vide ed­u­ca­tional and out­reach pro­grammes for the com­mu­nity. Your con­tri­bu­tion will go a long way to sup­port­ing our aim to pro­mote and nur­ture our her­itage for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

Visit west­berk­shire­heritage.org/ do­na­tion

ABOVE: The­atre Royal Wind­sor, which is still plan­ning to host its Christ­mas pan­tomime The Mill at Son­ning River­side Res­tau­rant


BE­LOW: The Corn Ex­change, New­bury is host­ing com­edy shows and film screen­ings

ABOVE: Shaw House in New­bury is open again for out­door per­for­mances and vir­tual events

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