More cultural venues in Southend are set to start reopening their doors to the public during July as lockdown eases across the UK.
Focal Point Gallery in The Forum on Elmer Square will reopen to the public on 8 July with social distancing and enhanced cleaning measures in operation. Visitors will be able to see “In my Room”: a first solo institutional exhibition by artists Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, bringing together film, fresco painting and works on paper. ‘In My Room’ develops the artists’ enquiry into the politics, histories and aesthetics of queer spaces and culture. It builds on their travels across the UK whilst making ‘UK Gay Bar Directory (UKGBD)’ 2016: a moving image archive of gay bars, responding to the systematic closure of LGBTQ+ dedicated social spaces.
The opening of Focal Point Gallery follows an announcement last week that Southend Pier will start reopening to the public from Monday 6 July.
A phased return of library services, starting with a “click and collect” service, also starts from Monday 6 July 2020 while plans continue to be developed for reopening the town’s libraries for browsing and other services.
Work is also underway to reopen the historic Prittlewell Priory in Priory Park from 29 July, subject to approval of a Covid-19 risk assessment.
Opening dates for The Cliffs Pavilion, The Palace Theatre, Southend Central Museum, the Beecroft Gallery and Southchurch Hall will be announced in due course as risk assessments are undertaken.
A Southend Safe kite mark scheme – being administered by the Southend Tourism Partnership (STP) – is being rolled out to businesses and organisations in the hospitality sector across the town, with local businesses being encouraged to apply for and display the logo to demonstrate they meet new safety standards around distancing, hygiene and other measures put in place by central Government. This runs alongside a Visit Southend Safely campaign – administered by the Southend Business Improvement District (BID) - encouraging visitors to keep apart, avoid crowded areas, wash hands regularly and wearing a face mask more frequently.
Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for, Business, Culture & Tourism, said: “As lockdown gradually eases, our focus now is on keeping people as safe as possible while reopening our cultural venues for residents and visitors to enjoy.
“Cultural activities are proven to have enormous benefits in terms of mental health and wellbeing, which for many people will have suffered during lockdown, so we want residents to have confidence that they can start enjoying local culture safely again.
“Culture is also crucial to the prosperity of the town as a whole, so reopening these venues safely will play an important role in the town’s economic recovery from lockdown.
“A full return to life as normal will take some time and is very much dependent on how we all follow government guidance to keep ourselves and others safe from Coronavirus and bring the risk of transmission down. Therefore, I encourage local residents and businesses to keep abreast of the latest government guidance and do their bit to keep each other safe.”
To keep up to date about businesses reopening in Southend, see the Visit Southend website.