Join our FREE live product webinar on 1 March 2021 at 2PM (GMT) to see how ArtifaxEvent helps with all aspects of venue and event management. There will be an opportunity for attendees to submit any questions they may have during the session.
👉 We’ll highlight how ArtifaxEvent can:Check your calendar in a breeze with our all NEW “Availability Calendar”,
👉 Handle your venue bookings from initial enquiry through to wash-up invoice,
👉 Seamlessly track your events from planning to post-event review including meetings and communication in our NEW “Contact History” functionality,
👉 Create unlimited rooms, resources, contacts & transactions,
👉 Manage prospects, customers, suppliers, performers, visitors & guests,
👉 Simplify bookings, finances, tasks & document management,
👉 Schedule reports, create automations & integrate with other systems
The Harlequin Theatre keeps staff employed with an innovative social initiative
It’s no secret that 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. We wanted to draw your attention to a positive lockdown story from one of our customers – the Harlequin Theatre and Cinema in Redhill, Surrey.
Tough times for theatres
The Harlequin Theatre is known for putting on a top-class range of on-stage entertainment. However, lockdown and restrictions on events this year has made that impossible. The next planned production is expected to hit the stage in April 2021.
Thankfully, with cinemas permitted to operate again since July, at least the venue has been able to host film screenings. The Harlequin, like event venues across the country (and indeed the world), has been severely disrupted by coronavirus.
Turning a challenge into an opportunity
The Harlequin Theatre has managed to stay open, keep staff working and provide a service to it's local community. Since April 2020, the auditorium has been converted into storage space for stock collected from local supermarkets and the public. Vulnerable people and food banks then receive the essential food and supplies. The theatre also opened up it's kitchen to provide a service delivering hot food to those in need.
Craig Penrose, the theatre’s Customer Experience Manager; highlights that it was important for the theatre to remain active even when it couldn’t perform its usual function. He said “As the theatre is owned by the local council, there was always a need and desire for us to deliver something. When we realised that we had the space and opportunity to do this, it was a no-brainer, and the service was received positively by all of its beneficiaries. As a local theatre, it’s great to be able to give back to our local community.”
Pulling together to support those in need
This change has allowed the venue to lift the spirits of both employees and the public while giving its staff a continued sense of purpose. Craig says that many individuals have had to be flexible. Giving their energy to carry out tasks that are often far removed from their normal duties. “Our staff had to learn new skills to deliver this service, so we commend them on their willingness to do this. For instance, our Refugee Support Manager ended up in the kitchen cooking around 60 meals a day to be sent out, with our technical team working as warehouse managers. Everyone developed their own role to help this initiative fulfil its potential.”
Other lockdown initiatives at the Harlequin Theatre
In addition to the food bank scheme; the Harlequin Theatre and Cinema has also found other ways to create value both in an out of its venue. ‘Event cinema’ presentations feature alongside the schedule of standard film screenings, and the café reopening in September.
Earlier this year, the venue also engaged with its community online. They showcased the local performing arts scene with its fantastic Live from Lockdown competition, which ran earlier this year. The competition received 48 high-quality video entries from local performers of all kinds and over 3,000 votes from the public. 10 winners won the opportunity to perform at a special event on the theatre’s main stage in 2021.
Paying tribute to a great achievement
We feel that it’s only fitting to highlight this incredible example of a venue thinking outside the box. They demonstrated passion, energy and dedication during this difficult period to stay open and in constant use, while also bringing value to its local community.
All of us here at Artifax say “Bravo!”
How the Ontario Science Centre provided virtual field trips for students during COVID-19
The Ontario Science Centre (OSC) has been delivering valuable programs to little and big humans for over half a century, and even in the midst of a global pandemic, it strives to continue its mission “to inspire passion for the human adventure of discovery”. We sat down with Lorrie Ann Smith, Vice President, Science Education to talk about the OSC’s history, mission, and the challenges of delivering online programming.
Before we begin
A gift from the provincial government to the people of Ontario in celebration of Canada’s Centennial, the Ontario Science Centre was one of the two first science centres in the world, opening to the public in September of 1969. Since its early days, the OSC has been “planning the gray space between formal and informal learning”, encouraging hands-on learning in STEAM subjects, and using interactive exhibits to create a different sort of museum space: one in which we are all encouraged to touch, to play, and to experience first-hand.
The pandemic sent the Centre into crisis mode from March through June, and they had to pivot quickly to create a virtual museum. With so much available content to choose from, it was not only challenging for staff to coordinate, but also for them to determine how much people could consume.
How did you come up with your virtual field trips?
After a lot of visitor research and evaluation, we’re undertaking a digital engagement strategy. We’re also trying to gauge what the online audience looks like now that it’s not just children and their parents, but everyone.
The Ontario government has mandated no field trips for schools in the 2020–21 school year—so since schools can’t come to us, starting in October we’re going to them. We’re redesigning Studio programs like Chemistry Concepts and Fun with Physics so they can be delivered virtually, with accompanying resource packages that include videos, PDFs, and editable slides that teachers can customize.
How have you been delivering your content?
The Connected North program has been using technology to provide immersive and interactive education for remote indigenous communities all across Canada for many years, and we have been able to use their delivery model to handle some of the more technical aspects of providing online programming. We’ve been utilizing the event and venue management software Artifax to manage the school bookings.
Are you working with other organisations?
We’ve been talking to local colleagues in the field at Harbourfront Centre, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Toronto Zoo, to share ideas and challenges, and to create a working awareness of each other’s resources that we can share with teachers.
What has been most challenging?
Beyond programming the content and creating the resources, one of the considerations we’ve encountered is privacy and protections from harassment online. The safety of our students and staff is important to us, so were only virtually going in to classrooms for now and not into people’s homes.
How are you handling the uncertainty of the future?
The future is such a question mark right now. How do we compete virtually when teachers could potentially visit any museum in the world? If teachers previously brought their students to the OSC for an experience that couldn’t be delivered in a classroom (explosions!), how do we differentiate our programming and provide unique experiences, now that students are stuck in those classrooms?
What's in store for OSC?
Though many questions remain, OSC is pushing forward, and working to make sure that no student misses out on those hair raising experiences —it just might look a little different this school year.
The OSC will reopen to visitors later this fall, but you can visit remotely from wherever you are through online resources for parents and kids, such as Science at Home, as well as resources for teachers such as STEM Education Toolkits.
Time to start on your Crochet Coral Reef project!