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Norden Farm receives £351,000 grant but venue is not 'out of the woods yet'

A grant of £351,000 has given Norden Form new hope but the centre for the arts is not ‘out of the woods’ yet.

The funds have been awarded by Arts Council England from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund.

The money will support running costs over the next five months and help to ensure the future of the community venue following substantial losses incurred due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The centre, in Altwood Road, costs £750,000 to run annually and its chief executive and artistic director, Jane Corry, said the thought of not receiving the grant ‘doesn’t bear thinking about’.

“This grant is massively, massively welcomed, we feel very lucky to have got it and without it we’d be really, really stuck,” she said.

“We had our doors closed to the public for five long months and in that time, of course, we just absolutely hemorrhaged money because there was nothing coming in.”

Norden Farm reopened last month with a live programme of shows, classes and film, but it is only open four days a week and its capacity has been greatly reduced to ensure it is COVID-secure.

Pre-coronavirus the venue would utilise all its spaces with multiple events and activities taking place at any one time.

However, now there is only ever ‘one thing on at a time to make sure that we’re keeping everybody safe’ – which has a detrimental impact on takings.

Jane said: “Nothing makes lots of money at Norden Farm, that’s not what we’re there for, but everything contributes a little bit, and it’s the collection of the little bits that make it work.”

The live events the centre is hosting are being live-streamed so people can enjoy them from the comfort of home.

“That helps a little bit to make up the income but it’s just nowhere near what we need to run because that’s just one event happening,” said Jane.

“This grant is fantastic because it gives us hope, but it doesn’t completely take us out of the woods.”

Jane said Norden Farm will be announcing a public appeal to support the restricted capacity live and virtual programmes.

Find out more about Norden Farm’s live and virtual events at www.norden.farm/events

- South Hill Park Arts Centre in Bracknell has also received a share of the Culture Recovery Fund to the tune of £232,258.

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