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Norden Farm set to reopen for autumn programme

Norden Farm has announced it will welcome visitors back to enjoy live performances from Sunday, September 6.

The date marks the start of the centre for the arts’ autumn programme, which will include live music, theatre, comedy, as well as event cinema showings.

Performance venues have been given the green light to open from Saturday, August 1 but Norden Farm chief executive and artistic director, Jane Corry, said there is not the content available to open so soon.

She also said the Altwood Road venue wants to ensure ‘people feel happy and safe getting back to the farm’ which means some alterations need to be put in place.

When the centre does re-open it will be offering ‘in-theatre’ tickets, and also live streaming events so people can buy an online ticket for a household.

Jane said: “We’re going to be doing blended performances which combines a socially-distanced audience at Norden Farm with an audience enjoying the entertainment from the comfort of their own home.”

She explained that this ‘doesn’t just mean looking at a screen with somebody performing’ but instead creating ‘a really inclusive experience so you feel like you’re in the room’.

One of the ways this will be achieved is the use of multiple cameras to film events, and also virtual ‘chat bars’ for people to ask questions and talk amongst themselves during the performance.

The artist will join the conversation for a Q&A during the interval or after the performance.

The inaugural blended performance kicking off the re-opening on September 6 will be that of stand-up comedian Mark Watson.

Jane said the other events booked in for the autumn make for ‘a really lovely programme of live performance’ but said some artists are still ‘very nervous’ in light of the pandemic.

“Our international programme has been compromised because the artists can’t travel or plan with certainty, however we do still have a lot of UK artists,” she said.

“We’re carrying on programming, we’re carrying on putting on gigs, but we’re planning for every eventuality.”

She added: “Luckily we have a lot of artists who are very fond of Norden Farm, and who love playing Maidenhead and they really want to be here.”

To ensure visitors to the venue are kept as safe as possible when it reopens the capacity for The Studio will be reduced from 100 to between 30-40 and the Courtyard Theatre from 230 to 100.

There will also be some one-way systems in place, people will be asked to book tickets online or over the phone via the box office, there will be a Perspex screen at the bar, and ‘contactless everything’.

When the centre does reopen it will only be open four days a week from Wednesday to Saturday as it cannot afford to open seven days a week.

“There’s going to be quite a lot of changes at Norden Farm for the autumn but we hope that our heart will remain the same,” added Jane.

For anyone wondering how to support Norden Farm, Jane says ‘buy a ticket to see a show’.

“That can be watching from your sofa and that really supports us and keeps us going, and also supports artists,” she added.

Find out more about Norden Farm by visiting the website: www.norden.farm.org

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