Exterior shot of Watershed in daylight
Posted by:

Clare Reddington CEO

on Fri 2 April 2021

Coming out of lockdown

Clare Reddington, Watershed CEO, looks ahead to re-opening the building, thanks Arts Council England for their continued support through the Culture Recovery Fund and asks for your help and feedback.

The sun has come out this week and we are excited to be looking ahead to re-opening the building - complete with new downstairs bar! 

Although our building has been closed, we have been working really hard during lockdown - on ourselves and for others -  we have pioneered new programmes online, and supported our own communities of artists and the wider creative ecology with funding, support and advocacy:

The Pervasive Media Studio has provided support for residents around business development and wellbeing sessions as well as regular social events. Our weekly online Lunchtime Talks have reached 18, 000 people, we have co-delivered a Creative Producers workshop in Lagos, funded a suite of new thinking around future themes including the politics of pleasure online, modes of togetherness, biopiracy and 'cripping' technology. In further support for the wider sector, Film Hub South West has collaborated with BFI to administer the BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund to support exhibitors and film festivals - investing over £183,000.

Togetherness is at the heart of everything we do and we cannot wait to be back with you in our beloved 'shed. But, it will also be tough - social distancing means our capacity will still be only 20% of what it was and we also have continued concerns for the freelance community, about what will happen to city centres and how Bristol's legendary sprit of Independence will have fared. 

With all of this in mind we are especially delighted to have received funding from the second round of Arts Council England's Culture Recovery Fund, which will enable us to continue to provide financial, cultural and social impact across the South West and the UK with confidence and spirit.

The grant of £215, 000 will cover our losses until June - giving us some stability and also funding for programme elements to help support the wider creative ecology:

  • We will run four Rife residencies for young freelancers from underrepresented backgrounds to develop their skills, voice, networks and confidence. A series of labs and networking events will support 60 young people to develop their freelancing skills. 
  • We will produce a three day artist lab bringing Playable City, our international programme of city change, home to Bristol where we will explore how new forms of equitable playfulness might support the re-development of city centres. 
  • We will experiment with new models of curation, working with curatorial associates from a range of backgrounds, contributing to the launch of a year-long exploration of relevance running up to our 40th birthday in June 2022. 
  • And we will invest some capacity in freelance communications support - with a particular focus on re-building our 'day-trade' for the Café/Bar. 

Look out for news and opportunities in the coming weeks about how to get involved in these - we are very grateful to Arts Council England for their continued support - Thank you.

Finally - when we re-opened last summer your views, questions and feelings about coming back were really useful to us, so we are asking again. If you haven't seen our audience survey - you can find it here - tell us what you think! Thank you.