Our charity’s struggle to survive the pandemic: A year in reflection.
It has been a rollercoaster journey and “improvise, adapt and overcome” continues to be our daily mantra.
I recognise that Hawkwood has a special place in many people’s hearts, both locally and across the world. This is why we feel it is important to keep you up to date on our current situation.
It is nearly a year since we were forced to close our doors to all on-site activity. Our lovely house, dining room and accommodation have been quiet for most of the past ten months which has had a devastating impact. Over the last year, we have lost £350K of projected income due to the effects of Coronavirus.
Though this is hard to write, I wish to let you know that Hawkwood is at a critical time and we may need to make some challenging decisions with regard to our place over the next few months. There are many unknowns, but the trustees and I meet regularly to explore all options. I feel sure that with the right support, at the right time, coupled with expert guidance from the wonderful Hawkwood board, we will survive and thrive into the future. But timing is of the essence.
Before I go into the details of our year of positive actions, I must also appreciate the Hawkwood staff team. They have all worked tirelessly, with goodwill and flexibility, to make the best of unpredictable circumstances.
Adapting in practical ways
In March 2020 we successfully pivoted a significant proportion of our programme to online which has welcomed hundreds of new people to our educational and cultural offers. This was already in our plans but Covid accelerated us bringing it into form. Thank goodness for Zoom!
Last week’s Climate Action Lab inspired and challenged over 200 people to take steps to mitigate their own environmental impact, whether personal or in their business.
Essential renovations and Covid safety measures have been organised by maintenance, housekeeping and the kitchen team, taking advantage of quiet times in lockdown and leaping into action to welcome guests when restrictions have been lifted. Before the pandemic, Hawkwood reached a £1million turnover, welcomed over 20,000 people a year and was running over 250 courses annually. Behind the scenes, we are steadily rebuilding the on-site programme in a careful, mindful and safe way. Our high dream is to start welcoming people back as soon as March should restrictions allow.
We have done everything in our power to minimise financial losses. An emergency loan from Triodos Bank was planned to see us through this period, but the continuing restrictions are stretching our resources to the limit. The Francis W Reckitt Arts Trust have gone above and beyond in supporting the trailblazing artist residency programme.
Every avenue of grant funding has been explored. We have just applied for the Art Council’s Cultural Recovery Fund again.
One challenge is that Hawkwood sometimes falls between the cracks for emergency support packages. We are both hospitality, and education; performing arts and a place for conversations about the future. Perhaps this complexity confuses funders, whereas it is also our strength!
We have taken advantage of the Government furlough scheme with 80% of staff furloughed since last March, and have reopened whenever possible, often at short notice.
The online programme is finding its place internationally. As this grows we hope it will bring added resilience for our charity.
Many of our suppliers and customers have donated funds to support our work and we are now launching a fresh funding initiative (see below).
Nevertheless, despite looking at the situation from every angle, Hawkwood is, in all honesty, in a vulnerable position, and some tough choices lie ahead. I will keep you informed over the coming months and hope that with our continued efforts we will find a way through.
It has been an incredible journey – challenging, exhausting, emotional! Yet also with surprising, joyful and heartwarming moments which keep us going.
I’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped us over the last year – our participants, artists, partners, tutors, venue hire collaborators and, of course, our local community. Your presence and support has been invaluable as we have adapted and transitioned our work to manage the impact of the pandemic. Please see below how you can continue to help us going forward.
If you or anyone you know may be in a position to support Hawkwood financially, please visit our donations page or do get in touch.
Thank you to you all,
Alicia Carey, Chief Executive
Support us now! We appeal to your generosity today.
- Local Community Friends – our woodland and grounds are still open for you to enjoy. Sign up to our newsletter, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- Course Participants and Alumni – you are our lifeblood! Let us know how we are doing, suggest courses you would like to join, book on online or inhouse programmes. Contact our main office.
- Venue customers – keep Hawkwood in mind for your booking needs from April 2021 onwards. Contact Daniel Edwards.
- Course tutors – share your ideas for courses with us and spread the word about our programme. Contact Katie Lloyd-Nunn.
- Partners – spread the word, share our content, let us know about your successes during the pandemic, and how we can support you, too. Contact Alica Carey.
- Artists in Residence – let us know how you are getting on, submit a blog, apply for a residency to come back to Hawkwood. Contact our main office.