Our 2021 Co-Artistic Directors on the importance of keeping connected in times of crisis
It’s now been just over a month since the difficult decision to temporarily close the doors to our building was made, and it’s been a huge change to which we have all – audiences, artists, communities, staff and supporters – had to take some time to adjust.
Theatre thrives on human connection – the powerful collective experiences that can only happen when artists and audiences are brought together in a shared space. At the Belgrade Theatre in particular, our communities are at the heart of everything we do, from our drama groups and our education and outreach projects, to the shows that we create in collaboration with local people, or which bear witness to the stories of our city.
To have lost that connection with our audiences, communities and collaborators could have been devastating – which is why your response to our situation has been so incredibly heartening. We’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of all of you who have taken the time to share messages of love and support, by the generosity of those who have donated, and by the fact that so many of you are already eagerly looking forward to returning when we reopen in September.
Rather than it being diminished, we feel the strength of our connection with our community now more than ever, and we’re delighted that you’ve already enjoyed engaging with some of the new projects and ideas we’ve been trying out online. Encouraged by your response, we’re continuing to experiment, and we hope to have lots more to share with you over the coming weeks.
We’ve also been struck by the creativity and resourcefulness of those we work with – from the artists and makers developing new work in response to the crisis and finding ways to support each other, such as Shoot Festival’s brilliant Shut Down But Scratching event, and our Coronavirus Time Capsule project with Grapevine; to those of you who have eagerly chipped in with ideas and feedback on social media.
We take pride in the fact that we’ve been able to inspire such loyalty from you – that you value us and our work enough to want to continue to help us, collaborate with us, donate to us and interact with us, even under these incredibly challenging circumstances.
But it’s also important to us to that you know that it’s okay to take a break, and to give yourself permission to recover. To independent artists, we’d like to say, take your time. Give yourself the breathing space you need to bounce back with new creative ideas, as we know you will. Though we always love to hear from you, please don’t feel pressured to respond immediately. We will not forget about you.
To our audiences and to all the people, young and old, who are part of our community projects, we want you to know that we are still thinking about you, and working hard to develop new ways of continuing to connect with you. In the meantime, if you need to talk to us, our virtual doors are always open. Make sure that you look after yourselves – and each other. True to our community spirit, we believe that we can get through this crisis much better if we do it together.
We want you to know that we are still here, we still care and we are looking forward to meeting you all again, when the curtains come up, with an ice cream in hand, back to place we call our home: the Belgrade Theatre.
Corey Campbell, Balisha Karra and Justine Themen
Belgrade Theatre Co-Artistic Directors for 2021