A year like no other

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Wednesday 17 March marks a year since the Roundhouse temporarily closed its doors. No one could have predicted the year we all had ahead of us. We want to take this moment to reflect on the last year but also look forward to the year ahead as we begin to feel far more hopeful for the future.

When the pandemic hit, we created our Round Your House programme, so that we could continue to work with young people online whilst the Roundhouse Studios were closed. It was important for us to focus on what we could do, rather than what we couldn’t. We’ve now run over 50 workshops online and worked with thousands of young people, staying creative and connected, even whilst we can’t be together at the Roundhouse. Young people told us these workshops made them feel more hopeful. At a time when many of us didn’t feel hopeful, to hear young people say that, constantly renewed the energy within the team.

Before the pandemic, we were incredibly proud of our mixed economy model, not relying on large amounts of public money, but we were incredibly grateful to receive £775,000 from Arts Council England, through the Culture Recovery Fund, which helped us in a time of need. The team also responded with some brilliant fundraising initiatives such as Round The Houses – a 36 mile walk where 40 people took part and we raised £350,000. A huge thank you to our Chair, Simon Turner and our Trustee Ella Bennett who co-led the challenge and to the whole team that took part. We’ve also done other initiatives such as the Roundhouse Lotto, which thousands of you took part in. By buying Lotto or gig tickets, renewing your Roundhouse Membership or supporting us in some way, you helped us prioritise our programme of work for young people and helped us to look after our Grade II* listed building.

We’ve been incredibly lucky to have the support of Trusts & Foundations, including Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Youth Music, as well as corporate partners including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Taylor Wessing and Spotify. The support extends far beyond financial investment and our funders and partners work directly with young people, which broadens their professional networks, as well as developing key business skills. This is even more important given the impact of coronavirus on young people’s jobs and futures. That’s why we’re also committed to building the Roundhouse Campus, which will be a beacon of hope for young people, the Roundhouse team and our wider community, and we will be commencing construction in May.

The last year has been incredibly hard on our staff team and the broader industry of freelancers and suppliers, many of whom have lost income and jobs, but I have constantly been reminded of their dedication and resilience. Although our programme of activity was significantly reduced, the team has adapted and worked incredibly hard to implement all the latest government guidelines, to deliver Covid-safe events including the beautiful Lianne La Havas live stream and the Roundhouse Poetry Slam Final. By holding these events we’ve managed to bring in some income but most importantly get the team back onsite, including freelancers and suppliers, who work on our events.

We now have a roadmap for reopening and our priority will be to reopen the Roundhouse Studios so that young creatives can get back into the Roundhouse and reconnect with their peers. It also means that we can welcome more of our team back into the Roundhouse, including our permanent team, casual staff members, tutors, volunteers and freelancers, all of whom are at the heart of the Roundhouse.

We know our audiences are keen to get back as well and we’re getting the building ready to welcome you back too. We can’t wait to see you all again over the summer and experience that sense of joy and community that comes with live music and performing arts.

Photo credit: Samuel Regan Asante