WEST END MUSICAL CHOIR
How we've been affected by Covid-19
As a large community based choir we have been impacted dramatically. We went from thirteen venues across London to zero as the total lock down prevented in person gatherings. Prior to lock down we had over 1200 members (18-90 in age, across all backgrounds, and we are inclusive) and this fell by over 50% within a very short space of time and continues to fall even more.
We put 50% of our PAYE staff on the government furlough scheme and cancelled 80% of contractor employment (West End Musical Directors and performers). Our revenue has fallen by over 70% as in addition to fewer members we have been stopped from providing workshops here in the UK and at Disneyland Paris. We now have four in-person rehearsals each week.
At considerable expense and time we have made sure each venue is covid compliant. We adapted by also rehearsing online. The challenge with singing as a group together online is the delay (latency) that means singers are out of sync when singing together. To overcome this, initially we had produced our own pre-recorded rehearsals with professional singers prior to lock down, to then all play out together and sing-along with at home. We have now invested into 5G live streaming rehearsals so that singers can sing along in real time. We have purchased cameras, lighting, tripods, 5G contracts, production software, playout software and trained ourselves in the operation of this equipment with the help of volunteers within our singing community. Using technology such as ECAMM Live, Loopback audio virtual Mic and platforms such as Facebook and Zoom; we continue to positively impact our singers and their family and friends.
Some of our singer's testimonials
- "My mental health has been pretty shaken throughout all this and singing with you last night really helped!”
- "Thank you for making me believe again... thank you all from the bottom of my very emotional but happy heart"
- “Just a wee note to say that oh my gosh - I can’t get over how good the virtual rehearsals were this week! After being on so many Zoom calls/Teams calls/FaceTimes over the last 6 months that have gone glitchy, I’m not sure what I was expecting but WEMC have 100% raised the bar on the Zoom game! I know a lot of hard work has gone into making this work, so just wanted to say a wee thank you for making it so inclusive, regardless of whether you were in the room or at home.”
- “Really great news as the return to in-person rehearsals has been such a fantastic thing in the middle of a testing and uncertain time. It's testament to all your hard work and ingenuity over the last few months that we are able to continue in person like this, so another huge thank you for your perseverance and resourcefulness in a turbulent year! Wrapping up the first song this week was hugely enjoyable and the recording Maxine took of our run through on Tuesday was most pleasing to see/hear.”
How we will use your donations
We will use your donations to help towards maintaining our level of singers through the next 2 quarters of trading as we return to the spring time and hopefully start to relax restrictions and allow the return to more normal rehearsals.
The Choir is much more than just about singing; we are a strong community and support each other emotionally and psychologically. We understand the importance of singing (the release of endorphins), performing (growing confidence), social interaction (stopping depression) and support network (many of our singers are single, away from home). Which is why we have continued to also provide weekly social events (virtual), fundraising events (charity runs with correct social distancing) and entertainment (simultaneous watching of movies).
Donations will specifically be put towards continuing all of these services during the dark months of winter by helping towards paying for the return of staff furloughed, the contract workers from the West End Musical Theatre workforce.
Your donations will also contribute towards performances. People love to perform and people love to watch performances. We have conducted hundreds of performances ranging from small charity fundraising at Stations, supporting London at the V&A Museum and Hampton Court Palace, to live-on-stage at the X Factor, ITV and live-on-stage at ‘This Morning’ ITV. We all pride ourselves on the standard of our performances and this continues with our virtual performances. Please see an example here: