Reflecting on our 2020

Phew! What a year. We are – as we’re sure you are – glad to be putting it behind us.

2020 was immensely challenging for CPT and the cultural sector. We know that not everyone in our industry is still standing at the end of this tumultuous year, and they are in our thoughts. We know our artists continue to struggle, and our audiences continue to miss real, live, in-person theatre – and we’re doing all we can to work with them, support them, and get performance back on our stages.

But we can’t let 2020 be all about the difficulties. Yes, it’s been a year of huge adversity. But in that adversity, the sector has come together in mutual support. And CPT, like many other theatre organisations, has achieved extraordinary things.

Here are some of them:

– We have secured emergency funding to ensure the financial viability of the organisation for the next 18 months and have also delivered on our core objectives to support early career artists and our local community. For this, we are immensely grateful to our emergency funders: Arts Council England via the NPO emergency funding and DCMS’s Cultural Recovery Fund, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and London Borough of Camden.

– We have offered out our largest ever round of commissions, generously funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, commissioning 19 (nineteen!) artists to create new work, reimagine their practice and develop projects to support our community. This included four Outside the Box commissions for artists to create a significant piece of work responding to the era of social distancing, nine seed commissions for artists from marginalised backgrounds to develop new projects and six funded places on our Starting Blocks programme that supports solo artists or small companies to develop new projects throughout a ten-week residency.

– We launched a series of free 1-to-1 mentoring and advice sessions with a host of industry professionals, offering their time in-kind to artists in need of support. To date, over 150 artists have benefited from the offer, receiving support for everything from fundraising to business strategy. The scheme has been so successful that we plan to continue it long-term.

– As chair of the STAMP network, we have delivered a number of artist facing events, e.g. an Open Door event chaired by independent artists Jennifer Tang and Josie Dale-Jones, designed to create transparency between creatives and organisations by chairing a frank discussion / Q&A session with six STAMP organisations.

– In September, we reopened our building to offer rehearsal space in-kind to artists. We have also brokered a relationship with local businesses via Regent’s Place to provide additional space in kind for artists to rehearse.

– We hosted a series of ‘coffee mornings’ and artist Zooms for people to connect with the CPT directors, ask questions, be heard – and be part of an artistic community. These have run parallel to regular email updates where we’ve shared vital information about funding, finances and creative opportunities.

– In September, we launched CPT Digital – a new platform to platform and promote brilliant digital performances created by CPT artists. Featured projects have included work by She Goat, Beats & Elements, SBC Theatre, the No Direction Home standup collective, and Kill The Cat. The initiative will be embedded in our programme long-term and has the potential to significantly expand our audience reach.

Throughout the Covid emergency, our community engagement activity has been an integral part of our activity, and has included:

– In June, CPT handed its closed building over to the charity Food For All, facilitating the delivery of over 6,750 hot food parcels to members of our local community.

Camden Youth Theatre has been delivered online with 40+ young people from Camden since March. The programme continued over the summer holidays for the first time, resulting in a live-streamed performance of a newly devised show and a six-series podcast created by CYT alumni. Funding has just been secured from the Postcode Community Trust for CPT to be delivered throughout 2021.

– In September, we produced a free community festival in our local Tolmers Square residential area. Designed for residents to watch from windows and balconies, the Tolmers Square Variety Spectacular engaged over 50 people from our most local community with a host of cabaret performances from CPT regulars including Frankie Thompson, Beats + Elements, and Rhys’ Pieces.

– The future of our community engagement activity has been secured for the next 18 months with a generous grant from Camden Council’s Section 106 funds, giving us essential time to secure additional funds when the funding climate settles.

And last (but certainly not least), we secured all of our funding to re-develop our building in 2021 to better serve the people and communities that make CPT. We’ll always be the alternative, radical, community-focused theatre in the centre of London that you love – but with a vastly improved and more accessible space.

Here’s what you can expect from our new building in the new year:

A re-developed theatre, foyer and rehearsal space, with improved facilities that will better serve the 300+ theatre-makers and 17,000 audiences that pass through their doors every year

A welcoming café/bar space that will unlock the possibility for us to realise our long-time ambition to open a new community café, re-imagining CPT as a civic space open day and night

– A building, co-designed with CPT artists, staff, audiences and community members, that is more accessible, more sustainable and made to better serve our community.

– A vastly improved on-street presence that celebrates the original pub architecture and provides a vibrant gateway for Drummond Street

None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of our staff, freelancers, artists, audiences, community and funders. Thank you!

If you want to find out more about how you can support us, please click here.