With The Georgian Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees crowdfunding to help it survive these challenging times, we took a moment with the Director of the Tees Music Alliance Paul Burns to get to know the venue and it’s role in the Stockton community….
How would you describe the importance of The Georgian Theatre to Stockton?
We’d say it’s incredibly important. It’s the longest established music venue in the town; and probably housed in one of the best buildings – dating back to 1766. It’s not just the building though; we have a great programme of events.
Where we’re a little bit different though is our expertise around music development – so in addition to our normal weekly programme, we’re working with artists, promoters and other venues to engage them with the wider music industry – and encouraging collaborative work to strengthen our local music scene.
What local bands have you been listening to recently?
Just recently it would be Eve Conway, Wax Heart Sodality and Benefits. That’s only three of probably about 10 or more that I’m dipping in and out of – we have a very rich seam of talent at the moment.
The Georgian Theatre is credited for its accessibility. What tips do you have for venue and events looking to make their place more accessible too?
- The first step is to talk to people with disabilities and find out what’s stopping them visiting your premises regularly. That could be a chat on social media – or by email initially.
- Then speak to someone with expertise – the staff at Attitude is Everything are great; and more than willing to advise.
- Accessibility isn’t all about wheelchair access – there are so many forms of disability; it’s much better to start small and tackle things that are relatively easy fixes.
- It’s great to start ticking items off on a list – and gives a boost to approach the larger, construction based improvements like ramps and adapted toilets.
We see that The Tees Music Alliance run other fantastic projects in the community too. Tell us a bit about that.
We’ve always worked with volunteers since we began in the 1980s – and we try to offer people the opportunity to help out at our events in their pursuit of experience or making new friends. We currently direct some of our volunteers to a local community radio station; which we host within one of our buildings.
We also have a great programme called The Working Kitchen which blends an employment mentoring programme with building workplace skills – in this case around a pop up cafe which acts as a great shop window for people to move into regular employment.
We love the reward packages on your crowdfunder page, especially the opportunity to have a song written for you. What inspired the ideas?
A lot of the ideas came from the local music and artistic community – so we got offers from local songwriters to write songs for people; local designers are designing badges – and another is designing a commemorative Tee-Shirt. Everyone has been really supportive and wanted to contribute to the effort.
What will the donations mean to The Georgian Theatre and what will the cash go towards?
In the short term it’s about helping to keep us afloat and to pay the bills. The thing about the pandemic is that our income dried up straight away; but our bills will still keep coming…
We’ll also be using the proceeds to host some special free entry events for our local community of artists, promoters and audience members – to let our hair down once it’s safe to do so.