The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone - and the arts and creative sector has been no exception.
Our students were thrilled when we told them that we had acquired the rights for them to perform the musical Sister Act Jr. - a specially adapted version for young performers - at our local theatre, the Brewhouse Arts Centre, in March 2021.
When the first lockdown eased we were able to work with some of the cast in a Covid-secure venue with social distancing and other safeguards in place. Recent restrictions have meant rehearsals are online again.
Our students NEED some certainty and something to look forward to and they are so very keen to perform this show. We want to give them that certainty. Our plan is to film the show at the Brewhouse in March (without an audience) and then show it online as a scheduled stream. This will give everyone the excitement of sitting down on one specific date and time to watch the show - although they will be in their own homes and not together in the theatre auditorium.
We need to fundraise to cover our costs. Read on and we'll explain more.
When the first national lockdown hit in March 2020, we moved all our classes online. It was important to us that our students, aged 4 - 18, continued to have a safe space where they could keep singing, dancing, being creative, making friends, making memories and having fun.
In a world that sometimes seemed a scary place, they enjoyed seeing each other and their teachers on screen and were able to support each other. Some sense of routine and normality on a Saturday - initially at a time when their schools were shut all week - made them happy and less anxious.
To raise their spirits and boost their confidence and skills, we arranged a series of Zoom workshops with West End performers.
We also helped them to film an original drama serial, which went out on YouTube, and they performed the first, full-length children's production written and designed to be rehearsed and recorded remotely - The Show Must Go Online!
In the spring, we held auditions online for Sister Act Jr. before announcing the cast in June. At that stage, we still hoped that we'd be able to perform in March 2021 at the Brewhouse in front of a live audience. As the second lockdown got underway in November, there were a lot of 'maybes' and 'what ifs'. We had to start thinking about the reduced number of tickets we could sell and how we blocked out seats for households to sit together and leave social-distancing space. There was another problem, which was how we maintained social distancing backstage between cast and crew. Would people even WANT to come out to a theatre by March?
Any plans we made to perform in front of an audience could face change if restrictions increased or reduced. Would grandparents and audience members with health conditions stay away, even if restrictions eased?
So, we discovered that we could pay extra to stream a scheduled, recorded performance of Sister Act Jr. The main licence to perform a popular and well-known show like this one is already a considerable investment for a small organisation like ours - but we felt our students deserved this opportunity.
We will still have to pay royalties for tickets we sell to that scheduled, streamed performance. The Brewhouse has been amazingly supportive and we are so grateful for their help. We need to pay them to hire the venue. We all want the Brewhouse to be there for our community when this pandemic is over. We want our students to have great costumes and a professionally-recorded show. So we need your help to raise £500 to make this all happen. We have chosen to make this an 'all or nothing' crowdfunder. This means that if we don't meet our £500 target then all the money pledged through this campaign is returned. If we do meet our target (and our fingers are crossed REALLY tightly!) we'll contact all those who have chosen rewards after the crowdfunder ends in January 2021.
We never seek to make a profit from our end-of-term shows. We just need to cover our costs in an uncertain world. If we exceed our target, that money will go into producing future shows and showcases for our students.
Some previous work by our students:
In December 2018, we took our students to London to perform on a West End stage. You can read the full story of that amazing day here.
We have also been commissioned by Central England Co-op to create some short films based on the values and principles of the Co-op. The students wrote the scripts, acted in the films and more details can be found on the Co-op website.
Donations: We would be so grateful for any donations to help us reach our target and secure the performance of Sister Act Jr. online.
Rewards: We have put together some rewards, which you can see down the side of this page. Some of these would really suit local businesses and self-employed people who want to raise their profile and show the community that they are open for business. We are all in this together and we would love to do anything we can to help. Other rewards could make a great and very different surprise present for someone you know.
Please share our campaign: It will really help if you can share this campaign with your own networks, or pop on to our Facebook and Instagram feeds and share our posts. If all goes to plan, we will be selling tickets for a scheduled streamed performance of Sister Act Jr. in 2021 and any sharing you can do about that will help us enormously too. Thank you for anything you can do!