‘They are at great financial risk, I know we are’ – Interview with The Barn Theatre’s Jamie Chapman Dixon

With Covid-19 spreading, lives changing and the things that we  love being closed down, the world is in a very odd and daunting place at the moment. Businesses up and down the country are struggling to cope and with large gatherings banned, the curtain has come down on theatres both big and small. The Barn Theatre in Cirencester is just one example of many small theatres that are at risk of losing a great sum of money as the shutdown continues, and it is at times such as these that we need to continue to support the arts and help in whatever way we can. I spoke to Jamie Chapman Dixon, producer at the Barn Theatre about how they are trying to keep the theatre alive in these trying times.

Up until now, the Barn Theatre has been going from strength to strength, what are you doing to keep things moving forwards as much as you can?

We have just launched the BEHIND THE BARN DOOR streaming service as part of our Save The Barn campaign. The service will supply an eclectic mix of material which we will release for free and encourage any donations that people are able to give during this hard time.

What is your favourite thing about The Barn Theatre?

I would have to say that it is the creativity that runs through every person who works here. Every member of the team has such brilliant and unique ideas which keeps our work fresh and new.

I see that the company is beginning to stream shows online. Do you think that in the current climate, this is the way forward?

I think that we will see a change of structure across the industry when this is all over. So many people have taken to creating content online, which is amazing to see, and it would be such a shame to see this stop once theatres open back up.

How does it feel to have famous author Micheal Morpurgo showing such support to your Save The Barn campaign?

Michael is one of the kindest human beings I have had the fortune of knowing and his support means the world to us. His writing speaks to all ages on one level and he is all about nurturing young talent and giving back to the youth of today. If I could choose one author’s work to only produce for the rest of my life, it would be Michael’s.

Covid-19 has had a massive economic impact on the arts industry, do you think that smaller theatres are at a great risk?

They are at a huge financial risk, I know we are. Small theatres (and even many big ones) don’t have large cash reserves to keep them going in a time like this as they rely solely on tight margins and ticket sales. It would be incredibly sad if we see any theatres close their doors for good during this time and we all need to stand together to help ensure that this doesn’t happen.

What can the public do to help the Save The Barn Campaign?

Donate. We completely appreciate that we are not the only ones who are in hardship right now and if people can’t donate then a share, a like or even a welcomed smile to life spirits. Any variety of support is eternally grateful.

I think that it is great that you are launching the Behind the Barn Door service, not only to bring theatre to those self-isolating, but also to promote the theatre and the campaign. What led you to decide to launch such a service?

We have had a huge interest in live streaming for a while now and our team love their tech. We have luckily been building up the equipment to live stream for a while and we feel like one of our strengths is our digital marketing campaigns so it felt like a natural way to go.

In these daunting times, why do you think that it is important for the public to continue to support the arts, and small theatres in particular?

A lot of small theatres focus on new writing and the next wave of talent coming through the industry. It is a training ground for most people and without this outlet, the industry would suffer. The world turns to the hospitality and entertainment industries to take their minds off of a busy week or a hectic day in the office. If we do not support these industries now, then they won’t be there in the future. The small companies as well as the big companies are finding it hard right now but it is really encouraging to see the support and love that is being shared by all at this difficult time.

I would like to thank Jamie for his time and wish him and all at the Barn Theatre the very best for the future. If you would like to learn more about the Save the Barn campaign and the Behind the Barn Door streaming service, you can find more information here

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