St James is Reopening!
This is not the usual newsletter since we have not been living through normal times. When we published our March newsletter we proudly announced a full and varied programme through until the end of June. Unfortunately, almost as soon as we published the programme, the full impact of Covid 19 on island life became apparent and we needed to close our doors in the interests of public health and to meet the Lockdown requirements.
We are now delighted to announce that St James is able to reopen and we are starting to present events from July. In order to meet the current restrictions there will need to be some changes. We are limited by the numbers we are able to include for each event. Seating will be at tables of family (or “bubbled”) groups. A drink service will be available, and will be served at the tables since we are not yet able to run our normal bar in the Dorey Centre.
Details of the events planned are included with this mailing and are also available on the St James website. In brief, we are planning evenings with classical music on Thursdays and a range of local bands performing on Fridays and Saturdays. We will be starting our programme on Friday 3 July, and the classical music evenings will start a little later, on 30 July. While travel restrictions limit the opportunity to invite off Island performers, these events will be featuring the best of our local talent and will provide a great opportunity to be part of the live music and entertainment scene once again.
Progress towards a more normal programme will depend upon the pace at which Guernsey moves out of Lockdown. At this stage we are planning a normal programme for the final quarter of the year and we are currently finalising those arrangements. This will be set out in the usual diary which we expect to have delivered to your doors in September.
Support St James
We do hope that you will like these new events and will wish to come along to St James to support them. It is really important that you should do so.
Like many local businesses and charities, St James has suffered financially during the Lockdown, with no event income but continuing expenses in maintaining the building and paying the salaries of the core staff needed to run the building, deal with postponed and cancelled events and to plan for the future. Thus we do need the event income if we are to continue to be the cultural and community hub of Guernsey. Since our income will be limited by the restrictions on numbers that we need to impose during the Lockdown, it is important that each and every event is well attended if we are to return to a breakeven position and not increase our losses.
Please come along and support St James!
Because of the Covid 19 closure and the consequential adverse impact on our finances, the St James Board concluded that it could properly only reopen if it had additional financial support. Accordingly, it requested additional funding from a number of sources and we are pleased to acknowledge several generous donations, including those from the St James Jubilee Foundation and the Swallow 2018 Charitable Trust. These are all greatly appreciated and have given the St James Board the confidence to reopen St James in these unprecedented times.
At the same time, we have recognised that our ability to deliver all the services to the community that Guernsey now expects is limited by the modest size of the annual States Grant, which has not increased since 2002. We have started discussions to see if this could be increased to a more meaningful level for the future. Thus, if you are able to give this campaign your support when next speaking with your States Deputy, that would be greatly appreciated.
Due to the closure of St James during the Covid 19 Pandemic it has unfortunately been necessary to cancel a large number of events. We have recently been contacting ticket holders with a choice of three options – to have a credit towards future events with a bonus element as set out on our website, to receive a refund, or to have the ticket price treated as a donation to St James. If you have not yet been contacted, please let us know at St James on (01481) 711361 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The major renovation works at St James were progressing well until the lockdown restrictions were imposed and the workmen needed to leave the site. As a result, the completion of the works has been delayed. However, we are pleased to report that the contractors are now back at work and are making good progress once again. We are expecting that most of the internal work should be completed by the end of September, though we expect the external scaffolding to be with us until the end of the year, since additional problems with the lintels of the north facing windows have emerged, which will take longer for the rectification work to be completed.
The good news is that events can continue at St James regardless of these renovation works, thanks to close liaison between the contractors and the St James team.
Cafe St James
For the time being, Café St James remains closed due to the Lockdown restrictions. However, we are hoping to reopen in the Autumn, with a brand new menu and ambience. We will have further details in our next newsletter.
We have bid farewell to John Evanson, our café manager, who decided that, with the impending lockdown closure, it was time to move on. We are very grateful for his contribution ever since Café St James opened in its current form, and wish him well for the future.
We do have a replacement in the wings and will be progressing this appointment as soon as the Café is able to reopen.
Upgrades at St James
While the building has been closed during lockdown, some much needed upgrades have been carried out by the team. The kitchen of the Café has been refitted and the St James office has been refurbished.
At the same time, we have taken delivery of a new PA System, intended to replace and enhance the existing system, which had reached the end of its useful life. This is a “state of the art” system which will greatly enhance the quality of the sound experience when amplified voice and music is required in the main Hall. We are immensely grateful to the Guernsey Community Foundation, Raven Russia and the Guernsey Arts Commission for the donations which have made this purchase possible. At present, the new equipment is waiting for the removal of the internal scaffolding before it is installed but we expect it to be in use very shortly.
As we relaunch our programme of events we have introduced a new website which will allow us to show all that is going on at St James in a more dynamic and vibrant way. We do hope you like it.
Keep Safe and Keep Well
Finally, we must thank all our Friends and Readers for their cooperation in these very unusual times. We know that it has been a difficult time for many but, as part of Guernsey Together we are playing our part in ensuring that Guernsey can once again have its cultural and community hub in a safe environment and in line with public health guidelines.
Please keep safe and keep well and we look forward to seeing you at St James very soon.