Presented by Kaivalya Plays in collaboration with ACRI
17 March, 2021 | 4:00 pm onwards | Webinar
With the slow and steady reopening of arts venues across India & the UK, we were pleased to be joined by venue owners and managers from the two countries to talk about safety measures and how they’re envisioning the next few months in order to welcome audiences back into their spaces. Moderated by Varoon P. Anand of Kaivalya Plays, the session kicked-off with a data-driven overview of the current COVID cases in India and the UK, including the reopening roadmap laid out by UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson and how entertainment venues feature into those timelines.
In the first section of the panel that focused on the UK landscape, we heard from Phillip Brown, the Head of Risk and Safety at the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and Catherine McKinney, Head of Finance & Administration at the Soho Theatre. While Phill looks forward to the month of May and the possibility of beginning the re-opening process, he suggested being cautious and keeping a close eye on the rollout of the vaccination campaign. For Catherine, reflecting on the different requirements of the different spaces at the Soho Theatre means confronting the stark reality that they are unlikely to be fully operational before 2022.
In the next section of the panel that looked at cultural programming in the context of India, we heard from Arjun Sagar Gupta from “The Piano Man” group of venues and restaurants, and V. Ravichandar who is a Hon. Director of Bengaluru International Centre. Arjun mentioned how they maintained contact with artists through online performances, before opening up the restaurant space and is now personally monitoring socially distant performances to ensure audiences and performers are aware of safety protocols. Ravichandar shared how they have instituted strict Covid-19 protocols and trace sourcing at BIC whilst trying to incentivise their audiences to make smart (and safe) choices.
We also heard from Farah Batool, Programme Coordinator at the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhawan who shared how the cultural centre has responded to the pandemic through digital-first programming such as the Refunction performance series and offering emergency funding to Indian cultural institutions to keep them going.
Finally, we had Vidyun Singh, Director of Programming at the Indian Habitat Centre (IHC) join the discussion through a video message where she shared how they’ve begun the process of reopening IHC, instituted online registrations for all programs and will continue to offer primarily online programming for patrons while slowly unlocking the different segments of the IHC one by one.