Since COVID-19 closed theatres across the country in March 2020, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch’s small team has rapidly reimagined the essential services it provides. As a result, in 2020/21, QTH reached 160,500 people, and employed over 100 freelancers, generating a very different programme of life enhancing cultural activity.
QTH made new digital theatre attracting 9,497 unique household views. In June QTH premiered its first YouTube streaming, of co-production The Hired Man, seen worldwide, and devised and live streamed Here I Am, lovingly made out of 1,000 lockdown story responses from local community members. In November, it live streamed the world premiere of Misfits, co-commissioned from 4 diverse writers, receiving 4 star reviews and an OnComm nomination. In February the world premiere of Sharon n Barry do Romeo and Juliet on Zoom enjoyed 85% approval ratings and a 5 star Daily Mail review.
QTH premiered a new revue, Christmas Allsorts, and whenever permitted, staged performances in the auditorium and on the newly named The Other Stage, for families, people experiencing dementia, and comedy and music lovers.
QTH’s Learning and Participation team developed new creative online activity for social isolated and vulnerable people, attracting 141,857 engagements. Weekly Seated Dance Classes and Musical Theatre Workouts proved popular, as did Tiny Plays, online community playwriting classes, with the results recorded by professional actors and released online. This developed into a telephone edition for those who face barriers to digital engagement. Specially created Spring into Creativity Packs were delivered to 600 homes across the Orchard Village & Passive Close estates.
QTH Young Change Makers created a new Community Library, delivered I Am Here (sessions discussing identity online), launched a Changemakers Network and made a series of podcasts. Weekly work with Havering looked after children lead to a collaboration with Lung, The Children’s Inquiry, the R&D of which was shared in November.
When open to the public, QTH delivered 5,765 in person participatory engagements, taking over the theatre for 5 weeks of holiday workshops, running daily classes for parents & babies and older people, and switching Youth Theatre between in real life and weekly connect sessions.
Outer Limits has further evolved into a lifeline for a growing network of Outer East London and South Essex creative practitioners, with new weekly skills and networking sessions, one to one funding surgeries, 3 associate artist programmes to enhance support to independent artists (D-Live, Old Trunk, Rebecca Brewer), free use of rehearsal spaces, a scratch night and sharings, all engaging 1,685 local and regional artists.
QTH has helped establish Havering Changing, a new Creative People and Places partnership, appointing a dedicated team and facilitating new activity for under represented and under served communities. Hyper local outdoor and digital test events took place, alongside recruiting steering groups of local people in Harold Hill, Rainham, Romford and Orchard Village, running Let’s Create funding night schools, launching new creative community support packages (£31,000 awarded to date), and calling out for ideas for Let’s Make Havering Happy boxes of happiness.
QTH had made best use of closure to reinvigorate the building and cost effectively complete QNew, QTH’s £1.3m capital redevelopment, the first in 40+ years, as well as transforming the membership of the Theatre’s Board. QTH fundraised for emergency support from public and private sources, including the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund, Arts Council England, London Borough of Havering, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, London Community Respond Fund, Clarion Futures, and attracted record breaking levels of generous public donations.