Our Covid-19 Response – An Update and Thank You Message from St George’s Bristol CEO, Suzanne Rolt
T H A N K Y O U
We truly are living through extraordinary times and, working from home in a hastily assembled office, it’s hard to believe that St George’s has now been closed for a full week. We’re not alone in having experienced a roller-coaster of emotions during this period, and the team here appreciates the many messages of support we’ve received from supporters, audiences and artists. We all have a part to play in fighting back against this formidable threat, and we draw strength from knowing that we’re holding each other up and working together as best we can.
Ironically, given that all our events have been temporarily suspended, the past week has been one of the busiest I’ve known, the days swelling with the work needed to respond to urgent government advice and the steps that must be followed to safeguard St George’s and its future work. We’ve been following announcements very closely and establishing practical support networks with other cultural partners in Bristol and around the country. Venues like St George’s are a point of connection for many people, particularly those earning a living as performers, teachers and arts professionals. We’re particularly conscious of our own duties to musicians as well as to the wider community in which we work. Our recent capital project led to the creation of new spaces and facilities which we always intended to put to wider community use and I suspect we will be called upon to activate some of these in new and unexpected ways – we’re ready to step forward to do so, and knowing you’re with us makes that so much easier.
I would very much like to stay in touch with all our supporters, offering not just factual updates (useful as they are) but occasional music recommendations and online events to distract and hopefully delight. My own days have been made all the better by the spontaneous performances musicians are recording and streaming from their homes and I’d like to share these whenever I can. Angela Hewitt’s performance of solo Bach a few days ago was one such moment that was emotionally charged and hugely restorative (here and here via her Twitter account @HewittJSB ). New initiatives are in the planning and, as the old saying goes, ‘watch this space’.
U P D A T E
I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many of our supporters who have either retained their tickets, trusting that we will find a way to make them happen in due course, or donated back the value to St George’s. Please know that your donations are providing a vital lifeline when we need it most and they’re also morale boosting for both staff and our artistic partners. You have also made valuable comments and suggestions, all of which we will explore.
We are working with Arts Council England and Bristol City Council to form the best plan we can for St George’s over the coming weeks and months. We are immensely grateful for their pledges of help.
Our programming and events staff are doing an amazing job in rescheduling postponed events and also creating entirely new ones. There are no guarantees of course but we’re hopeful that we will be able to share details of our new autumn season in due course. Whenever it happens, you can be sure of encountering a fantastic selection of artists, including local percussionist Harriet Riley’s new big band project in the Glass Studio on Saturday 14 November. By way of whetting your musical appetite, you can catch her here with Alex Garden from the Drystones.
I hope you won’t mind my mentioning another beautiful piece of music from local musician Pete Judge, who recorded his first solo piano album at St George’s in 2017. Pete is a regular at St George’s in his better known guise of multi-instrumentalist with Three Cane Whale. If you love his music, please consider buying it as a means of supporting local independent musicians.
In difficult times, we believe that the arts can both inspire and strengthen our community. Our stage may be a little quiet at present but we’re turning our attention to filling our website and social media channels with stories and digital content. We have a few fun things up our sleeves so do keep an eye and ear open…
We’re going to need everyone’s help to ensure that when St George’s reopens it does so with its artistic ambitions undiminished. Every donation – no matter how big or small – will help us to achieve this.
With warm wishes and the gratitude of everyone at St George’s Bristol.
Thank you to all the heroic NHS staff – you inspire us every day.