It was with much delight that the news came to me from the trustees on Friday 15th May that we had been successful in our application to the Arts Council England for emergency funding.
Our bid had been based on opening the Museum outdoor spaces for the local community for the summer holidays, and it funded bringing both myself and one other staff member, Gemma, back from furlough to plan to deliver the summer opening.
Over the two weeks I had to wait, I started to get nervous about the thought of going back, the plan the trustees had put together for the bid was really strong, but would we be able to deliver it? So the very first task, on the very first day back, Monday 1st June was to plan out everything we needed to do before we could open, all the decisions we needed to make and people we needed to talk to.
Now, at the end of the month we have made so much progress. The Museum’s outdoor spaces will re-open to the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 16th July until the end of August.
We have spent the month talking to people in our local community as to what they need, reading lots of government guidelines on how to make sure the spaces are COVID secure and writing many, many risk assessments.
As July starts we are beginning the next stage of the reopening. I will be returning to furlough for some of my hours each week, as Joanna comes off furlough to be on site to welcome our visitors and outdoor volunteers. Gemma will continue her work with the local community, social media and making sure the site is the most fun we can make it safely for our visitors. Sadly, we can’t afford to have us all doing our normal hours, or have Christina join us at this time. I will carry on the task of raising more funds and planning for the next stage in our plan, the reopening of the Museum buildings in the autumn.
But first, the staff team will have a day on site getting everything ready to open outdoors. It feels a lifetime ago that I wrote ‘welcome back’ into the signing in book, I can’t wait to see it again.