SHERMAN THEATRE ANNUAL REVIEW 20/21
On 16 March 2020 we received the news that theatres across the UK had to close their doors due to the situation caused by Covid-19. To mark this milestone we are taking a moment to reflect on a year unlike any other and to extend our thanks for all the support we have received this year.
This year wasn’t the year we expected or wanted, but we knew we had to find new ways to continue entertaining our audiences, supporting Welsh / Wales-based artists, connecting with our communities and developing our young people. Our Annual Review tells the story of our work to do all of this throughout the year. You can read our Annual Review here.
Update 17 June 2020
On 1 June, we expressed our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and made a commitment to meaningful action. We accept that we need to do more in our organisation and that there are failings. We will make real and lasting change. We are incredibly proud of our Theatre of Sanctuary status and now is the time for us to live up to that title. We will be a sanctuary for all people and all voices.
The first step towards sustained, impactful change is to listen and this process is underway. At the highest level in our company we have been meeting with, listening to and working with Black artists and the wider Sherman family. Further to these conversations we will consult with all of the communities we serve in Cardiff and beyond to ensure there is real and increased inclusion and representation. At the same time every person in the organisation and on our Board of Trustees will be involved in a review to look introspectively to identify areas for significant change and improvement. The outcome of this consultation and review will be a blueprint and practical action plan for change. We will publish the action plan on our website once it is complete. Amidst the huge challenges that Covid-19 poses our organisation, the work detailed above is and will be a key priority for Sherman Theatre. Outside of Sherman Theatre, there also needs to be a recognition that systemic change is required throughout the arts sector in Wales and we will play our part in this.
A letter from Joe Murphy and Julia Barry
It has been over two months since we were last able to welcome you, our audiences, participants, communities, and theatre makers into our building. We miss you.
We felt it was time to write to you to let you know how Sherman Theatre is faring during these uncertain times, what we have been doing since mid-March and how we are planning for the future.
Our core mission has guided us through these past few months, as we have tried to respond to the unusual circumstances in which we all find ourselves. We have been committed to keeping our audiences and communities of Cardiff at the heart of everything we do, working with Welsh and Wales based artists to create exceptional work, albeit in new ways, and providing meaningful and visionary engagement opportunities.
We hope you have been able to enjoy our TEN monologues, have been participating in the Youth Theatre activities generated by our Creative Engagement Manager, or have engaged in our Time With sessions, amongst a variety of ways to stay involved. However you are keeping in touch with us, and supporting us – we thank you. All of this work is being delivered by a small Sherman team who remain working, whilst other team members are furloughed. And this work is completely cost neutral, largely drawing on the time, skills, and experience of the Sherman team, and the generosity of our Associate Artists who have been giving their time freely. We are, of course, committed to paying artists and this has been done via a generous donation from an anonymous benefactor, enabling the TEN/DEG project to happen. We are also hugely grateful for the generosity of Gary Owen and the team who came together to create Mum and Dad, performed so beautifully by Lynn Hunter and Michael Sheen.
Whilst we remain hopeful for the future, these are increasingly challenging times for Sherman Theatre. We know we are not alone in the struggle against this unprecedented crisis, we are not a unique case, but the situation we face is none the less a real and existential one. We are usually reliant on generating income from ticket sales, café bar sales, participant fees, and the hire of our spaces to support the work that we create and the activities and opportunities that we offer, but that source of income has completely disappeared, indefinitely. We are very fortunate, and grateful for, the ongoing financial support that we receive from Arts Council Wales and other funders, as well as the Government support packages specific to Covid-19 that we are able to take advantage of to help us through the current situation. And, of course, we are hugely grateful to our audiences and communities who have generously donated to us in recent months. But it is also important to note that we, along with our entire sector, are in a fight for our very survival at the moment, and the harsh reality of that truth must be faced head on, with clear eyes and full hearts.
The future is uncertain, but we are striving to ensure that Sherman Theatre, and our contribution to the sector, and the communities of Cardiff, and beyond, survives. We are endeavouring to find new and alternative methods of creating an artistic programme for audiences, that our sector-leading Youth Theatre and creative engagement work can adapt to new ways of delivery, and that our groundbreaking work with our communities through Sherman 5 responds to the new, but temporary, environment.
We know that, whatever your relationship with the Sherman, you will appreciate the importance of theatre and the impact it can have on our children and young people, our communities, our audiences, and our theatremakers – established, emerging, and aspiring.
To ensure that we come through this crisis and continue to deliver on our core mission, we are working very hard to keep costs down and to find new ways of generating income. The coming months are going to be challenging as the cost of a building, even when closed, are high. But we have a committed and hard-working team and with your support, we will come through.
The wellbeing of our audiences, participants, communities, artists and staff remains our priority, and we will not be able to come together in the Sherman building again until it is safe to do so.
But despite the building being closed, we still remain your theatre and we look forward to finding new, innovative ways to develop our relationships with you all and to continue to provide exceptional new writing, exciting and engaging participatory activities and ways of connecting our communities, and opportunities for our artists and theatremakers.
Please stay involved, and stay in touch. And, if you are in a position to, please consider making a donation to ensure that our doors will once again open and we can welcome you back into the Sherman Theatre.
Diolch o galon
Joe Murphy & Julia Barry
Artistic Director Executive Director
THE HEART OF CARDIFF
Our work is full of heart, it’s all about feeling and meaning for the people of Cardiff.
We sit at the centre of this city, not just geographically but emotionally, artistically and as a community. We are our city, through and through. We are the heart of Cardiff.
Patron - Rhys Ifans
Based in the heart of Cardiff, Sherman Theatre is a leading producing house which creates and curates exceptional theatre for the people of Cardiff. Its focus on the development and production of new writing and on nurturing of Welsh and Wales-based artists makes the Sherman the engine room of Welsh theatre. Sherman Theatre tells local stories with global resonance through its productions rehearsed and built under its roof in the capital. The Sherman is a place for everyone. It generates opportunities for the citizens of Cardiff to connect with theatre through inspiring and visionary engagement.
Joe Murphy in conversation with Nicola Heywood Thomas