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This arrived in my inbox this afternoon:

 

Dear Birmingham Royal Ballet Supporter

I am delighted to update you on some of the wonderful work that has been taking place behind the scenes here, and to update you specifically on Carlos Acosta’s plans for this autumn and Christmas.

Before I do however, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all our Friends and Dancers’ Circle supporters, and to everyone who has made a donation to our #BeRightBack campaign over the last few months. Our supporters have always helped us to deliver the inspiring and world-class work we do, both on and off the stage, but they could not be more important to us than right now. To find out more about our Friends or Dancers’ Circle groups or our #BeRightBack campaign – which closes next week! – please click on the links provided. Thank you again from all at Birmingham Royal Ballet for your help, support and continued interest in our work.

 

We are ready and excited to get back to work and to perform as soon as we can.

Our dancers officially come back to work in our Thorp Street building in Birmingham on 3 August. Carlos Acosta will be in the studio with them. We have created a 'safe back to work' plan for the dancers based on the process tested by professional sports.

2020 marks 30 years since the Company moved to Birmingham. We are determined to play an active part in Birmingham re-opening successfully and to bring some much-needed joy and live entertainment to our home city.

With so much uncertainty, it has been very difficult to confirm plans and performances, so we were thrilled when the Prime Minister announced that indoor shows for socially distanced live audiences are allowed from August. This means we can now push on with confidence to secure venues to deliver Carlos’s creative solutions for how Birmingham Royal Ballet can go out into our local community and entertain during Covid.

Carlos has been brilliant in this crisis. Despite the disappointment of not being able to present his vision for the Curated by Carlos Festival in June (don’t worry we’ve plans to present the festival next summer), he has created three flexible shows that Birmingham Royal Ballet can perform in whatever spaces we can secure – conference, sports or community centres – in different parts of Birmingham in October. Our home theatre, Birmingham Hippodrome is sadly currently closed, so our solution is to take a sprung floor out to large indoor spaces and put on free or heavily subsidised shows for socially distanced audiences.

Our dancers will also perform free outdoor ballet classes in the square in front of Birmingham Hippodrome (in the first week of September) and we are working with Birmingham City Council to secure another city centre public space to repeat the event. We’ve also been talking to our friends at the Birmingham Museums Trust about how Birmingham Royal Ballet can work with them when they reopen. Confirmed dates and times will be sent to you as soon as possible.

Our biggest job is to plan for Christmas. The Nutcracker is our largest, most popular show and essential to the Company’s financial stability. However, the numbers of people on stage, in the orchestra pit and backstage, plus the size of the set, means the show must be adapted if we are going to keep our staff, artists and audiences safe, and make the show financially viable with reduced audiences. It is our greatest ambition to be able to present The Nutcracker in December in Birmingham and London. It would be hugely symbolic as a positive sign of hope and recovery; celebrating the 30th anniversary of the production which was Birmingham Royal Ballet's gift to Birmingham in 1990.

 

For those of you who love contemporary ballet, Carlos Acosta has also commissioned a new socially distanced ballet, using projection mapping, which we are working to present in London at Sadler’s Wells Theatre this autumn. We’d love to perform it in Birmingham too, and are working to secure a venue. We are also planning to film the show for pay-per-view broadcast for our audiences who cannot attend a theatre event yet (more information, including the exciting choreographer, will be released very soon!).

Our Learning, Engagement, Access and Participation (LEAP) team have been working throughout lockdown to continue to deliver online classes for local young dancers with severe learning disabilities in our Freefall Dance Company, and we have recently restarted Dance Track, our free ballet training programme for talented children identified in Birmingham primary schools. We’ve had great success this year, with four of the local children we have trained going on this September to join the Royal Ballet School and Elmhurst.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's financial position – our future is tied to our venue partners’ survival

All the performing arts have been badly hit by Covid as has been reported in the media. Birmingham Royal Ballet is fortunate that we haven’t had to apply for Arts Council England (ACE) emergency funding. We are extremely grateful for the funding we receive from ACE and manage our finances very carefully. The Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme has been a lifeline for the Company as it has given us the time needed to re-plan and re-budget for our long-term survival, and protected the jobs of our 180 staff, dancers and musicians.

However, Birmingham Royal Ballet's future is under serious threat if the venues we perform at, including our home theatre Birmingham Hippodrome, go out of business or can only afford to programme big commercial shows in the future. This is why we were thrilled and grateful to government for their announcement that they will invest £1.57 billion of emergency funding for venues and hope very much that this will help Birmingham Hippodrome and all our other partner theatres in Birmingham and around England. We very much hope to be back touring soon.

It also goes without saying, that we are extremely grateful for the support we receive from our individual supporters, trusts and foundations, and corporate sponsors. As we cannot generate the box office income we would normally rely on they will play a key role in helping us fund our ambitious programme of activities for this autumn.

I very much hope that you can join us this autumn to watch an outdoor class and attend one of our socially distanced performances or, if you can't make it to a venue in Birmingham, watch us online. Thank you again for staying with us, and if you would like to find out more about how you can become involved with Birmingham Royal Ballet we would be delighted to hear from you.

With very best wishes

Caroline
Caroline Miller OBE, Chief Executive

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This notice from BRB is an object lesson in how to communicate with supporters, deploying the Acosta ‘brand’ to advantage, conveying the not-so-good news, and being up-beat about the future.
Well done Caroline Miller. You’ve moved me to renew my Friends membership.

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18 hours ago, capybara said:

This notice from BRB is an object lesson in how to communicate with supporters, deploying the Acosta ‘brand’ to advantage, conveying the not-so-good news, and being up-beat about the future.
Well done Caroline Miller. You’ve moved me to renew my Friends membership.


same thought here, although I’d be a new Friend!

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I will be interested (and probably sad) to see how they are going to adapt the Nutcracker...

 

Very nice statement from the company.  Thank you.  

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  • 2 weeks later...
3 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

Very sad news from the Birmingham Hippodrome this morning that the Nutcracker (and the theatre's pantomime) has been cancelled.

Oh no.   This whole situation is getting worse, not better.   

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BRB have posted the following on Twitter:

"We want to assure our audiences that we are working hard to secure an alternative venue for The Nutcracker in Birmingham this Christmas."

 

Edited by Bluebird
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19 minutes ago, Sim said:

Oh no.   This whole situation is getting worse, not better.   

 

And the Stage reports "....Hippodrome would now not open until February 2021 at the earliest...., "

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2 hours ago, oncnp said:

 

And the Stage reports "....Hippodrome would now not open until February 2021 at the earliest...., "

Sad and pathetic.  I feel so very sorry for the dancers, musicians and the backstage and front of house staff, many of whom are losing their jobs all over the country and the world.  It will be very hard for the dancers to stay motivated.  All these young people who have dedicated their lives to their art, and our pleasure, just to have it all ripped away from them.  It makes me angry and sad in turn. 

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2 hours ago, Bluebird said:

BRB have posted the following on Twitter:

"We want to assure our audiences that we are working hard to secure an alternative venue for The Nutcracker in Birmingham this Christmas."

 

Let's hope they succeed.  Those artists are desperate to dance again.  Just as desperate as we are to see them.

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I’m fast losing hope. The Maryinsky are performing with social distancing in the audience( 50%) capacity.

The wisdom in this country is that it is not viable to open with audiences limited to 50% capacity.

I already had tickets for BRB Swan Lake in Plymouth, Nutcracker in Birmingham. Still waiting to hear about Cinderella in Southampton. I just don’t get it.  People can dump themselves on the beaches in their thousands and the government couldn’t care less.

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7 minutes ago, Tony Newcombe said:

I’m fast losing hope. The Maryinsky are performing with social distancing in the audience( 50%) capacity.

The wisdom in this country is that it is not viable to open with audiences limited to 50% capacity.

I already had tickets for BRB Swan Lake in Plymouth, Nutcracker in Birmingham. Still waiting to hear about Cinderella in Southampton. I just don’t get it.  People can dump themselves on the beaches in their thousands and the government couldn’t care less.

 

 

Check the dates for Southampton Tony.  I was chatting to a friend yesterday who told me the dates have changed from January to February.

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1 hour ago, Tony Newcombe said:

. I just don’t get it.  People can dump themselves on the beaches in their thousands ....

 

to be fair, virus laden particles are dispersed much easier out-of-doors, what with sea breezes etc. so infection rates a lot lower. Not nil, just a lot lower

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People are also allowed to cram onto a full airplane, cheek by jowl, but not sit next to each other in a theatre or cinema.   The time has come to start giving artists and audiences the choice to perform/attend or not.  I would go to a crowded theatre tonight, with or without a mask.  Those who don't want to, don't have to.  Just give us the choice.  I have spoken to quite a few dancers and they are all desperate to get back onstage and would happily do so now.  If footballers are jumping all over each other when they score goals (and they are covered in sweat), why can't dancers touch each other and perform? 

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1 hour ago, zxDaveM said:

 

to be fair, virus laden particles are dispersed much easier out-of-doors, what with sea breezes etc. so infection rates a lot lower. Not nil, just a lot lower

I should have commented that the Maryinsky require the audience to wear face masks and do a temperature check before admission. I am sure there are many people in the UK ho would be willing to attend theatres under these conditions.

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I just completed a very short (one question) survey from BRB to say I would be able and willing to attend a performance of Nutcracker in Birmingham this Christmas. I’m sure other members of the forum have had this email today. I’d like to echo other comments that BRB have been impressively proactive in their recent communications. 

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12 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

Me too!  I wondered about the NIA where they performed many years ago?

Plenty of space for social distancing but still indoors. Fondly remember a performance of Sleeping Beauty there

with the lovely Rachel Peppin as Aurora

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18 hours ago, CCL said:

I just completed a very short (one question) survey from BRB to say I would be able and willing to attend a performance of Nutcracker in Birmingham this Christmas. I’m sure other members of the forum have had this email today. I’d like to echo other comments that BRB have been impressively proactive in their recent communications. 

I haven't had such an email for some reason but state here unequivocally that I would be happy to travel from London to Brum to see Nut, with or without a mask.  I would prefer no social distancing, but if they need to do so, then so be it. 

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2 hours ago, capybara said:

I would have wanted to respond in the affirmative but I've had no response to my e-mail of 10 days ago seeking to (re)become a BRB Friend.

 

I wrote to the company with a query a couple of months ago and it took a while to get an answer as most of the staff were furloughed.  I suspect the office staff may still be.

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I read that BRB were looking for an alternative venue to the Hippodrome to put on Nutcracker. 
I don’t know where that could be in the Midlands area but I was thinking the Royal Albert Hall

could be good. It’s SO huge I’m sure even with some social distancing in place they could get a reasonable audience in. I suppose it could be costly to open though. 
I know RAH is not the ideal for ballet but for this year I would be willing to risk it. Perhaps every other seat for people not in “bubbles” it’s all you get on a bus now!! 

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9 hours ago, LinMM said:

I read that BRB were looking for an alternative venue to the Hippodrome to put on Nutcracker. 
I don’t know where that could be in the Midlands area but I was thinking the Royal Albert Hall

could be good. It’s SO huge I’m sure even with some social distancing in place they could get a reasonable audience in. I suppose it could be costly to open though. 
I know RAH is not the ideal for ballet but for this year I would be willing to risk it. Perhaps every other seat for people not in “bubbles” it’s all you get on a bus now!! 

 

 

BRB have performed a modified version of Swan Lake at the RAH for the last couple of years!  They are due to again this year (and this date has not yet been cancelled).

 

I think the point is that they are looking for an alternative venue IN THEIR HOME AREA - the West Midlands.  I wondered about the NIA where they have performed before.  It's not ideal but it could work.

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It's the National Indoor Arena and is on the opposite side of the canal to Symphony Hall.

 

If you were arriving at New Street Station you should allow 20-30 minutes to walk.

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