The creative industry plays an immensely important part within our society and with theatres, music venues, art museums and thousands more different creative venues facing huge challenges throughout the pandemic, they have had to evolve and adapt to ensure they come back fighting.
One resilient venue nearby to our Anthology Hoxton Press community is Hoxton Hall, a Grade II* listed music hall/theatre. We caught up with Jennie and Grace to learn more about their post- pandemic plans and how the public can support their activities and return to normality, once restrictions lift.
Can you tell us about Hoxton Hall and how it was established?
Hoxton Hall is a Victorian grade II* listed music hall / theatre built in 1863. The venue also houses adjoining music rooms and recording space, meeting and rehearsal rooms, a dance studio, art studios and creative industry workspace, Hoxton Works.
In 2015 Hoxton Hall completed stage 2 capital restoration and refurbishment works supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and other partners. The project restored the theatre to its Victorian glory, significantly increasing its capacity to up to 290 and with improved technical capabilities.
Hoxton Hall seeks to create exciting, communal live performance experiences that are accessible to a wide range of communities, facilitating and creating work that responds to this uniquely atmospheric and intimate venue.
Who does Hoxton Hall support?
Hoxton Hall is a Hackney youth hub working with 80% involvement from local communities, delivering for Young Londoners aged 7 to 19 years old, 6 days a week.
We aim to be a learning organisation creating interchangeable links between artists, audience and participant, with each user being a key element in enabling the organisation continued evolution and development to deliver a valuable creative cultural resource.
Can you tell us a bit more about the classes you offer and how it helps the young people you support?
Hoxton Hall’s mission is to address inequality of opportunity for children and young people in the arts through engaging the diverse Hoxton communities and wider public with the performing arts through delivering creative activities that are accessible, fun and a high-quality experience for participants.
Our participation department has substantial buy-in and trust from beneficiaries and the spread of participation work continues to evolve to work with a range of young people. Our long history in the area is a key strength of the organisation and this strategy aims to build on this by expanding the offer and developing the work of the department more closely to match the ambition of the professional artistic program.
The department strives to train artists of the future with a professional development program available for older participants. Allowing new opportunities that will be developed for careers in all art fields including technical theatre, being housed in Hoxton Hall allows for exposure to the professional world and beyond.
The current participants are 80% BAME and largely local. A key part of the strategy of widening the offer is to create a bridge from participation to emerging artist and beyond. This objective complements the key benefits of the participatory work, which is engaged with building confidence, increasing social agency, progression routes to employment outside the arts and further education. Hoxton Hall’s location in an area of rapid gentrification is focused on breaking down barriers and enabling participants greater access to the benefits of the growth in the area.
Has the work of Hoxton Hall had to change in response to lockdown?
The delivery of Hoxton Hall’s work has changed dramatically since March 2020. However, our ethos has remained the same and we are constantly striving to deliver the same creative outputs which most benefit our participants. Our programme is now 90% online delivery with a small amount attending face-to-face sessions on a need’s basis at the moment.
Since the pandemic began, we have only been able to deliver our usual face-to-face artistic programme for four months. We ran a successful summer programme abiding to the government’s COVID-19 regulations with smaller groups and face coverings where required. With the ever-changing situation it means we have to be robust and ready to adjust to whatever is needed and safe for our young people and staff.
Adjusting to an online programme has not come without its challenges, with a number of young people not having access to adequate laptops, smart devices or access to the internet but we have worked hard to ensure these issues do not stand in the way of opportunities for our participants.
How can others help support what you do and the services you provide?
There are many ways you can support Hoxton Hall. It can be as simple as following us on our social media channels and engaging with or suggesting content. Alternatively, you could support our work with children and young people by sending us a donation. The amount doesn’t matter, it all goes towards supporting our extensive Youth Arts programme, which helps the children and young people build confidence. Through our activities, which feed on-going growth and development, our participants can enhance their networking and communication skills whilst nurturing their creative talent and entrepreneurial capabilities.
What do you like most about living/working in the area?
I have been a Hoxton resident my whole life and spent most of my adult working life living and working in the area. There really is something special about the street, as we navigate through living and working life is never dull. The sense of community is strong with long standing families being ever present through generations. Gentrification has most definitely had an impact on this sense of community but personally I believe this has brought added value to Hoxton.
Any exciting plans for 2021?
The last 12 months have been challenging for the theatre industry. Following three consecutive lockdowns, our building has remained closed to the public and our youth arts programme has pivoted online. However, we remain optimistic and are looking forward to when we can reopen. We’re currently developing our plans for reopening, once the Government gives us the go ahead, so watch this space!
Visit Hoxton Hall to show your support here.
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