Friday 24 April, 2020. Today marks three years to the day that I joined Kala Sangam.
Instead of sitting at my desk at work, eating the doughnuts that I’d have bought for everyone to mark the occasion, I’m staring out of the window of my small home office. Thinking about all we’ve achieved, and what the future might hold.
This week, inevitably, we made the decision to cancel the remaining performances in our Spring/Summer season. A season that had started so brightly – a sold out performance of Talent Hub’s uplifting, celebratory HELM; International Women’s Day being marked by the South Asian women of Womenzone; poets of different faiths, sexualities and life experiences sharing work as part of our Equality Open Mic night; the sounds of some of the best South Asian music performers in the UK playing Jonathan Mayer’s Altered Boundaries.
It’s testament to the hard work of the fantastic staff team we have at Kala Sangam that the final day before we temporarily closed our doors felt so odd. So quiet. When I arrived at Kala Sangam in 2017 there were often days when the building sat empty, but before the pandemic struck it was a rarity for us to have a space that wasn’t in use.
One of the unexpected effects of the current crisis has been the outpouring of support we’ve received from artists. The team have worked so hard over the last three years to make sure Kala Sangam is an environment that nurtures and supports artists to the best of our ability. It’s heart-warming to know that we have gone a long way to succeeding in this aim, and to hear how special many artists feel our space is.
It’s our intention to deliver this support more than ever, as and when we’re able to. We’ve made sure to honour contracts with artists despite cancelling performances, and over the last few weeks I’ve been supporting a number of independent artists and organisations in developing bids to emergency funding pots. At the moment we don’t know when we’ll be able to welcome audiences into our building again, so as soon as we can reopen our doors we’ll be looking at rediverting some of our programming budget into support for artists – paying people to be in our spaces, no pressure to create.
Like many arts organisations we have taken advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, with all but 3 of our staff currently furloughed. This scheme has been a huge support to us financially, however as one of the lower publicly funded organisations in the country this will only go so far. We will need people’s support – particularly when we’re open again and ready for business. If you would like to make a donation, or talk to me about ways you could financially support the company then please do email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite all that is going on at the moment we still have exciting plans for the future of Kala Sangam. We will not let this virus beat us, and we’re more determined than ever to play a key role in making Bradford one of THE places to be for arts and culture in the UK.
I hope you all keep safe and well and I look forward to welcoming you back to Kala Sangam as soon as we’re able to do so.