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Podcast: "The pandemic has shone a spotlight on society - and where the cracks are"

The coronavirus has destroyed many of the schedules for arts and culture in the city this year.
Kate Hall
Kate Hall is the latest guest of our Peterborough Natters podcast. Photo: John Baker

But Kate Hall - the creative producer of Jumped Up Theatre - is a natural optimist and has remained busy in an ever-evolving world.  As she says, "The wheels haven't stopped turning - they just keep changing."

In our latest Peterborough Natters podcast Kate revealed how Covid has shown the importance of partnerships, what 'The Vine' proposal for the TK Maxx building needs to avoid, and the lack of arts provision for 18-30 year olds in the city. 

We spoke to Kate earlier this week, when the first announcement of government funding was made for several of our SMEs, venues and organisations affected by our pandemic.

She said: "They have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. We need to protect the venues because they are expensive to maintain and we might not get them back, but we also need the pipeline of freelancers. We don't tend to have pensions or savings.

"We tend to be creative and innovative and turn our hands to anything, but there comes a point where people become exhausted and have to pay their bills.

"I would say why don't we just have a more humane welfare system, where it wouldn't matter what sector you're in - you'd be held up and supported, rather than relying on the nightmare that is universal credit?"

She also spoke about why a culture strategy for the city is an 'essential' rather than a 'nice to have'; and the devastating effects of long form Covid on people she knows and how some artists she knows have left the profession completely, while also reflecting on the positive feedback from the Peterborough Culture Forum.

Kate said: "Twice a month a whole network of people have a conversation about whatever is a hot topic at that moment, for an hour.

"It's not just culture sector organisations - it's community groups, the council - a good mix of people. Yesterday we talked about the culture strategy, which got stalled at lockdown before it went to community consultation."

"I was quite amazed actually because everyone was really positive - rather than moaning about problems people were looking for solutions to them."

On the current situation Kate says that with a roof over her head, an income, and an immediate family where everyone is safe, there are reasons to be optimistic.

She said: "If you're not optimistic, why get out of bed? I have had my moments when things have felt quite grim

"I've been realistic. In April I said to my board of trustees that we have to accept this is the way it's going to be for a long time. There was a collective gasp on the Zoom call.

"Even though I said it I'm still coming to terms with it. I have an optimism that I've seen good things happen.

"I've worked with Pop Up Arts in Stamford, who got funding from the local council to do a doorstep festival, where they worked with the housing association and families to find elders who had been isolated.

"They then brought performances to their doorstep - it was brilliant, and you just thought 'we've done a really good thing here'. 

"The culture forum is another one, making a case for arts and culture in the city, and building up resilience. While you cary on doing stuff, for the right reasons, that's surely a case for optimism.

"But we're all learning to walk again, and that's something we now have to understand."