22 September 2021

Blakehay Theatre Shares Their Covid Impact Story

The Blakehay Theatre won our Best Evening Out Award in 2020, which was sponsored by Vanguard Surveillance and Security. Here’s what Sally Heath, Theatre Manager has to say about the past 18 months


What impact did lockdown/Covid-19 have on your business?

On Tuesday 17th March 2020, we closed our doors to the theatre inline with central government advise. We had to shut our doors without knowing how long we’d have to shut for or when we could open again.

This meant a complete halt to all performances and shows and the complete loss of all business at the theatre.

However, the staff continued to work tirelessly and we launched the ‘Virtual Blakehay Theatre’ where we pulled together all of the amazing online content that came out and supported the industry by sharing information. We also created our own online content and kept our patrons and staff involved at all times.

We were fortunate to be able to create an outdoor event for Halloween 2020 with other Town Council services at the Old Town Quarry and started opening up again in November 2020 with the re-introduction of community classes in our studio, only to be closed again when the November lockdown came into force.

The theatre were very grateful to receive a Culture Recovery Fund Grant and this meant we were able to start producing online content for the theatre ourselves, however with the January 2021 lockdown this proved to be very difficult. We were able to produce and stream our Valentines Day performance and able to produce an amazing Comedy event at The Old Town Quarry in June 2021. However, the main benefit has been that we are able to install ventilation at the theatre and this building work is currently ongoing.


How has Covid-19 changed the way you do your business?

The impact of Covid-19 is still ongoing and we have been unable to re-open as yet, however we have lots of plans for 2022. The main impact has been that the theatre is hired by the community and they have not been able to rehearse or fundraise for their performances and so they have not been able to plan for their performances.

We have had to think creatively about keeping the theatre alive without being able to bring people into the building.


Are you able to go back to the way things were before lockdown?

At present this is all still uncertain, as we are currently waiting for the building works to be completed and the impact of the Autumn/Winter will have on Covid-19. The plan is not to go back to the way things were before lockdown but to be bigger and to be able to offer more shows and events for the people of Weston.


Does your business have any lasting effects of Covid-19?

Without the lockdowns and obtaining a grant, we would not have had the time and money to be able to complete our building works, and so this is a long term benefit for the theatre. The alterations that we have made during this time, will hopefully future-proof the theatre for the benefit of the community of Weston.

What are your plans for the future?

We hope to be able to build the theatre and grow the facilities and opportunities to become a community asset that is used by all, even more than the theatre has been in the last few years.


And if you could go back in time, what advice would you give your March 2020 self?

Not sure.


Thank you, Sally for answering these questions. There is no doubt theatres have been one of the hardest industries hit.  
Updated: 22-09-2021