Watershed by Toby Farrow

Photography by Toby Farrow

Watershed will re-open in September

Posted on Wed 24 June 2020

Yesterday the Government announced the re-opening of cinemas and bars in England from 4 July (subject to safeguards) alongside the reduction of social distancing to 1m plus (with additional mitigations).  

Why aren’t we opening before September?

We’ve been working on plans over the entire lockdown period that have been based on re-opening the cinema and Café/Bar during September – yesterday's announcement hasn’t changed these assumptions.

There are quite a few reasons and factors why we aren’t rushing to re-open even though we understand why you would want us to – please believe us when we tell you that we are desperate to re-open as well.

Our current focus is on planning the safe re-opening of the building, ensuring everyone is trained appropriately and making sure we have all the new systems, resources and processes in place and working well. You told us very clearly in our audience survey results that the safety of both staff and customers was most important to you and we wholeheartedly agree. All of this takes time.

We need to carefully consider the changes to social distancing and decide what we think is safe within the new one metre plus ruling – and we need to wait for detailed guidance in order to do this.

We also think it is important to give ourselves time to catch our breath before we re-open as it has been a challenging time for all of us. This is why in early August (3 – 9 Aug) Watershed is taking one week off. All staff will be on leave and all activity will stop for that one week – the hope is that this will give us all the chance to rest and relax at the same time and come back energised and ready to welcome you all back into the building.

Our job as custodians of Watershed is to ensure its long-term viability and survival. All of the above is carefully balanced with the fact we want to be there for you, our audiences, and to start presenting work again BUT the financial impact of the last three months means that we cannot take any financial risks at the moment when the potential of demand and levels of business remains so unclear.

Like many organisations across the cultural sector we are also having to undertake a redundancy and restructure process during this period, which is both challenging and heartbreaking. There are also other external considerations like the hot weather which tend to make July and August a quiet time for us and is just one more factor that has contributed to our decision to take a slower approach to re-opening compared to other businesses.

We have been sharing and talking to many of our fellow independent cinemas across the country who are also looking to open in September and working on a re-opening campaign with the independent sector. There are discussions taking place in the coming weeks with film distributors and the wider industry to understand the impact on film availability and audience behaviours in this new post lockdown world.

We are currently in the process of sharing the detailed re-opening plans with all our staff to consult and get feedback from them - once that is completed we will be sharing them with you to help you make an informed decision about when you will be ready to come back to Watershed.

Please know that we are doing everything we can to re-open our wonderful building and our offer to you all – we miss you all so much and can’t thank you enough for all your support and kindness over these last few months.

You are all Watershed and we cannot wait to welcome you home.

If you have any questions or comments please get in touch and we’ll get back to you.

With love from all of us at Watershed x