For most people 2020 was a difficult year, and it was no different for us. Following the cancellation of all our events and closure of our building from March 2020 onwards in order to stop the spread of coronavirus, we were determined to keep going and hatched ways to carry on in the wake of our greatest challenge yet.
Throughout this crisis we’ve been bowled over by the support, ingenuity and imagination of our community, partners and artists and we’re thrilled that since March 2020 over 40,000 people joined us online or in-person to enjoy content and shows we produced, supported or curated over the year. This is only around 20% lower than our usual attendance figures for this period, and we even welcomed 2,423 of you in-person for socially distanced events in the short period we were open during September – December 2020.
This included 62 people joining in with Come ‘N Grow gardening sessions, 132 people voting virtually for their favourite community project to win cash prizes in Pizza and Pitches and 1,916 people taking a trip to the Antarctic with The Man Who Wanted to be a Penguin, to name just a few events.
Of course, one of the most pressing needs was also to ensure the older local residents who are part of our Meet Me programme were not isolated without the weekly in-person sessions held at the Albany and across Lewisham in partnership with Entelechy Arts. Within weeks of the first lockdown in March, we were up and running with a brand-new weekly radio show, Meet Me on the Radio. Now into its third season, the content and format is co-created in partnership with Meet Me members and before Christmas we celebrated 15,198 listeners tuning in since May. Alongside this, we also made regular one-to-one calls, with our volunteers and staff spending 1,330 hours on the phone collectively.
We also saw no shortage of inspiration and ideas from our young creative leaders, who we helped to launch mentoring programmes, digital commissions and even a coding traineeship, reaching 885 participants in total and generating over 900 hours of paid work for young people.
Although the future is still far from certain and coronavirus looks set to shape our lives for some time to come, we hope you’ve managed to enjoy some creative inspiration with us and we’ll continue to adapt as we move through 2021. In the meantime, keep an eye on what’s on or find out about how you can get involved remotely or online, and we hope to see you in-person soon!