Norwich Theatre has today been awarded £240,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation to support its major Digital Transformation Project that will see the organisation make crucial adaptations to its programmes and buildings in response to COVID-19 and in preparation for recovery and building new resilience.
The Weston Culture Fund was established by Garfield Weston Foundation, one of the most respected charitable institutions in the UK and largest private supporters of arts and culture, to specifically support medium to large scale cultural institutions as they recover from the impact of COVID-19. With digital capacity and capability being key areas of focus for the foundation, the grant will see Norwich Theatre transform its buildings and programme in a number of areas.
The grant will provide Digital Production Infrastructure through in-house equipment to enable streaming of performances and participatory activities. This will allow Norwich Theatre to work with a broader range of artists, reach out to and engage with a wider and more diverse audience, and build resilience for the future.
Most visibly to visitors to Norwich Theatre’s three venues after they re-open, Digital Display Screens will be installed in front of house and external areas enabling more timely and efficient communication with audiences and supporting the process of making the buildings COVID-secure. The screens will also provide platforms to animate the front-of-house spaces and a new platform for year-round work with digital artists.
Finally, the funding will enable Norwich Theatre to appoint its first ever Digital Producer to help lead the organisation’s Digital Transformation Project through a range of activities including a wide-reaching training programme for staff, volunteers and freelance artists. This new role, which will shortly be recruited through an open selection process, will ensure the project is truly transformative and will develop new programming activity whilst ensuring existing and new audiences can be reached.
Stephen Crocker, Chief Executive of Norwich Theatre, said: “After many difficult and challenging months, and as we still wait for a time when we might be able to re-open, this news is an injection of joy and hope for us all at Norwich Theatre. I am hugely grateful to the Trustees of the Garfield Weston Foundation for recognising our work to continue supporting artists and engaging our audiences during the pandemic and the award of this major grant is truly humbling.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, we are more committed than ever before to our core mission of making creative experiences of all sorts available to as many people as we possibly can. This grant comes at a perfect time as we begin to consider how we rebuild our organisation, define a new culture and forge ahead with new strategies, all of which will have digital creation and engagement at their heart. It will be truly transformative.”
Philippa Charles, Director of Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “Our cultural sector is at the heart of our local communities providing not only entertainment but education and inspiration for many. Our Trustees were impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit shown across the arts in response to Covid-19 and it was a privilege to hear what organisations had been doing to not only survive but also to reinvent the way they reach audiences. What really stood out was the level of collaboration and support they had for each other and the determination to keep going, despite the increasingly difficult situation.
We all want and need our cultural sector to thrive and, if anything, our time away from the arts has shown just how important they are to us – bringing much needed pleasure and enrichment to our lives. Arts organisations are desperate to re-open and get back to what they do best, and we hope that this new funding will help many of them do exactly that.”
Photo: Let’s Never Meet (from Love Light Festival at Norwich Theatre Royal) by Antonio Roberts