Safety first as Lottery has helped Collage prepare for reopening

Collage Arts has been supported by the Social Enterprise Support Fund distributed by Big Issue Invest, on behalf of The National Lottery Community Fund. The fund distributed over £18 million. Collage received £36,600.

Manoj Ambasna, executive director of Collage Arts, said: “COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on many national arts organisations. Like most venues we have been closed over a year. Most observers think that the best way for the arts to respond is to develop local engagement strategies. Fortunately, this has been at the heart of practice for the past 35 years.

As a result of the Social Enterprise Support Fund, we have put in place changes to our building that will mean we can safely reopen to the public.”

The funds have supported improvements to the air movement and heating systems, which have helped to make the venue safer. There was also partial funding for the renovation of the gent’s toilets, so that they are easier to deep clean.

This means that both our venue and the face-to-face deliver of programme can be safely delivered.

Manoj continues: “Through our programmes we work with a very wide range of people. We know that many of them have had a really hard lockdown. This has impacted on their mental wellbeing and physical health. For too many the lockdown has resulted in the death of loved ones without a proper way to grieve. This is why we want to have people back in the building as soon as it is safe. And thanks to the lottery we have an extra level of protection in place. We won’t need to prop the door open anymore. And the heat recover system means that we are delivering on our green agenda too.”

Funds have been allocated to Collage to ensure that the highest level of cleaning can be completed each week, including deep cleaning and fogging the venue.

Manoj concludes: “We have taken the mantra build back stronger, fairer and greener very much to heart. We don’t underestimate the challenges we face going forward, but I am very proud of the work we have been producing throughout 2020. With reduced staff numbers we have delivered a very strong programme of work, celebrating the creativity and resilience of our community.”

The Social Enterprise Support Fund provides essential financial support to help social enterprises during COVID-19. It will help social enterprises to meet additional demands, change the way they work, make their spaces COVID-secure, and manage liquidity during the next six months.

This has been made possible thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.