Yesterday the front third of the building seemed to be full of babies. Including our Duty Manager Matt, who popped in with his son strapped to his chest, as you can see, he was keen direct traffic! It was great to have so many families back in the building…it felt like hope for the future.
Practical plans are starting to emerge. We are camped out in the Committee Room next to the Council Chamber. We have printed out (some are handwritten) the hundreds and hundreds of emails and text messages of support. It is providing a great way for the whole team to see the offers of support and get in touch with people direct. Tuesday was a productive day: continuing to work with our insurers through the claims process; working with our architects Haworth Tompkins and a wider team of experts who are helping us assess the fire site and work out next steps; engaging with a salvage team from Historic Royal Palaces who have brilliantly offered to help with this important side of the recovery.
The building is currently made-up of three parts. The front third is up and running, and people can support us by buying tickets to shows, coming and supporting the Scratch Bar and enjoying the Battersea buzz. The middle third is the building site for our capital project, unaffected directly by the fire, and we hope to get builders back on site as soon as we can to work towards completion on this project, as planned. And then the back third, the Grand Hall, is where we are currently planning safe and salvage works, as we step forwards towards rebuilding.
Through the immense generosity of local and London-wide venues, we are finding homes for performances that were due to be in the Grand Hall over the next few months. The local 4 Thieves, the Southbank Centre and others. We will provide a full list and details on our website as they emerge. Thank you so much to those valued colleagues. But we are also thinking beyond the immediate. It is going to take a long time – it’s not clear how long yet – to rebuild. So we are exploring the idea of creating a temporary theatre space, perhaps even one in which the infrastructure we use can then be used back in our rebuilt space. For this we need to find a big building – a warehouse, open studio or building site – ideally with a roof, and power, and the potential for us to get a license! – that we can occupy and create a temporary Grand Hall. More on this soon. If anyone knows of a possible site or building, let me know.
A few people have asked why we need a fighting fund if we are insured, it’s a perfectly reasonable question. We hope the insurance will cover most essential costs but it will never be able to cover all the immense changes that we will have to go through over the next two or three years, the investment in new ways of working. Every penny of the fighting fund that is still, thankfully, growing day by day, will go towards the recovery of the organisation so we can keep all of our activities going, we don’t want to let anyone down because of this fire, indeed it will make us stronger. It will make us fight even harder for what we believe in…for us to come together, to take creative risks and shape our future. That’s why all those babies were in the building yesterday!…because they were reminding us that we are doing this for them, this building, this community, this arts organisation, it’s theirs, and we need to make sure it is here to help them grow, to develop, to be creative.