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Save Your Corn Exchange campaign to safeguard its future launches

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of closing during lockdown, and the restrictions caused by social distancing, Corn Exchange Newbury is facing a significant loss of income.

It has launched its Save Your Corn Exchange: Fund the Future campaign as it asks its audiences, supporters and the local community to help raise £100,000 to protect the future of the arts centre.

In March the Corn Exchange Newbury closed its doors as part of the national measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. Whilst its live performances, classes and workshops had to stop, it swiftly launched a busy programme of free digital activity to ensure the local community was able to engage in arts activities to keep connected and creative. These ranged from music groups for parents and babies, Singing for Wellbeing groups, regular story sessions, poetry jams, weekly classes for its Youth Theatre Members and, with funding from Greenham Trust, it co-ordinated the West Berkshire Virtual Community Choir recording of I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing. Over 5,000 people engaged in activities during this period.

The Corn Exchange reopened its doors in September with a programme of film screenings, live events, classes and workshops with COVID-secure measures in place, running alongside digital activities for those who are unable to join in person. The Corn Exchange believes it is vital to begin performances and activities again in order to create joyful artistic experiences for its community, but social distancing requirements have reduced the capacity for these activities by 75%. Since the start of lockdown, the Corn Exchange has reduced its costs wherever possible, has taken advantage of government schemes, such as furlough, and has been awarded grants from trusts and foundations, but it faces a loss of income of £750,000.

The Corn Exchange is a thriving arts centre which usually presents a busy programme of high quality live events, an independent cinema, workshops and classes for people of all ages, and free outdoor events for the community in Newbury and the surrounding areas, attracting talented performers and creatives from around the country and the world. Until social distancing requirements are lifted, the arts industry as a whole is facing a perilous time with theatres and producers struggling to present financially viable productions and the freelance workforce having no opportunities to work. Katy Griffiths, Director of the Corn Exchange, said: "The continuing crisis faced by the arts industry as a result Covid-19 leaves organisations like the Corn Exchange fighting for survival. Throughout this extraordinary situation, we have reimagined our activities and continued to find ways to bring our community together for creative activities and entertainment. We now need to ask our community to support us as we raise the funds needed to ensure the future of the Corn Exchange and its activities." Since the campaign launched on 3 October, the Corn Exchange has been touched by the positive response from the community and has so far raised £7,052.75, including a generous donation of £4,000 from the Englefield Trust.  To make an online donation please visit www.cornexchangenew.co.uk/fundthefuture or to discuss other ways to support the campaign please contact the Development team on 01635 582666.

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