I hope everyone is well and coping with this new reality? We have been missing and thinking a lot about our community; our regular coffee drinkers,  community partners, neighbours,  visitors,  members and patrons,  suppliers, national and international partners, artists, musicians, volunteers, young creatives, techs, roadies, groupies… we feel a little lost without you all!

But we are still here.

Last week we were asked on twitter to keep our lights on at night to show hope, and they have been shining ever since, with a splash of blue  in support of the incredible carers and NHS staff out there. Thank you to them, our hearts are with you.

So what have we been up to? From the 18 March when we closed our doors, we were been cleaning and packing down, making the site safe and secure, removing valuables off site. Most of the office team had been working remotely since the 16th, but by 22 March, all staff had left the site except for our  brilliant front of house teams who closed the doors after making sure that everything was safe and protected.

The Trust (the De La Warr Pavilion Charitable Trust) and myself have been meeting weekly to look at the business model in these challenging times. Like many other businesses, we took the decision to place most of our team on furlough leave. Although a hard decision for both employee and employer, the government scheme guarantees income to the employee and they remain contracted to the Pavilion – it is a ‘pause’ in their employment and we want to welcome them back when it is time to re-open. Furlough gives us short term business stability whilst keeping our team together.

Our Trust is very experienced with both national and local representation; it is chaired by Julian Bird, Chief Executive, Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre, so we are in safe hands. See more about our Trust here

Having said that, we have lost almost half our income overnight from ticketing and commercial operations. Although we receive important revenue support from Rother District Council and Arts Council England, we use it to unlock three or four times the annual turnover (up to £3.9m) which supports the business model and the local and regional economy. We know we are in a more robust position than many, but we need your support to come through this situation and to continue to:

  • Support the infrastructure of the building; we were working on an ambitious investment plan, but this is now on hold.
  • Employ 130 local staff, with many local suppliers and freelancers.
  • Deliver essential wellbeing and skills programmes.
  • Support the careers of artists, musicians and the wide ecosystem around them.
  • Present exhibitions, live music and public programmes with a national and international reputation to over 400,000 visitors per year.
  • Support the Bexhill, Coastal Cultural Trail, 1066 Country, Sussex Modern and England’s Creative Coast tourism initiatives.
  • Be a place to drink coffee and look out to sea – to have the space to think and be mindful in these challenging times.

We are lucky that we are linked into many useful networks through our regional, national and international partnerships, and to have their support. We have been talking to them all over the last fortnight. I’ve also chaired 1066 Country and East Sussex Music Hub this week, it’s good to talk and share knowledge and experience with these important networks. I’ve also been talking to Bexhill Chamber of Commerce to see how we can help the local business community.

As we consider our next steps moving forward, we need your help. If you can, please donate, become a member or patron, don’t ask for a refund, or even buy a ticket  – you will play an important part in our future.

Thank you for your continued support.


Stewart Drew

Director & CEO


Photo credit: Burst Photos

Posted by sally on Friday 3 April 2020