March 16th, and a year to the day since the Prime Minister said “you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues”, and the leisure and hospitality industries across the country simply stopped. Just five days later that warning turned into a directive for businesses to close their doors and, well, that was that!
At the time of course, we had no comprehension of how serious this was, or how long it would last, or the terrible and tragic impact it would have on so many. Now, as we start to look tentatively to the future, we’ve been reflecting on this past year, and crikey, what a year it was!
The sight of theatres across the world, from London’s West End to Broadway and in every town and city in between with their doors closed and the usual bright lights dimmed is a poignant one. But at The Cresset we didn’t have time to think too much about it – there was work to do! The process of rescheduling a show with a promoter (who had no better idea of when it might be able to go ahead than we did), contacting all the ticket holders by email and letter and processing the subsequent ticket exchanges and refunds quickly became the norm, and with over a hundred reschedules under our belt at time of writing we’ve got it down to a fine art.
Since then we have refined these processes, learned from our experiences, and are now working on plans for Summer 2021 and beyond with renewed confidence as the reopening roadmap and the vaccine rollout continue.
The lockdown hasn’t just affected the theatre of course, our Conference & Banqueting team were on the case too, postponing and cancelling all kinds of events, from exhibitions to weddings to conferences and Christmas parties, they have remained in continuous communication with our customers all year. And in The Fayre Spot the team handled the summer reopening fantastically, adapting to all the new regulations with positivity, and working hard to keep staff and customer safe until the November lockdown saw them make a return to furlough.
In the building things behind the scenes have remained busy; our incredible cleaning team have worked throughout, keeping the essential service areas open for business and keeping our staff and customers safe all year; while our operations, maintenance and technical teams have managed to use any time not on furlough to do all the compliance, testing, safety, repairs and redecoration tasks they can to ensure we’re in tip top shape for reopening.
So as we look back on this year we’ll be glad to see the back of it, but we also feel grateful. That we’re all still here to tell the tale; that the Culture Recovery Fund and the Furlough Scheme enabled us to avoid having to say goodbye to any of our team as so many other venues have sadly had to; for the dedication, enthusiasm and support of our colleagues; and for you, our wonderful customers, who wholeheartedly supported our efforts when we staged a Comedy Club, opened the pub, and against all the odds delivered a Christmas pantomime. We’ve been overwhelmed by the kind comments and feedback, the donations, the words of thanks, support and encouragement from our customers. You’ve all been brilliant, and we can’t wait to open our doors and welcome you back to The Cresset.