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Bid success for CRTA venue in Tattenhall – New seating arrangements are on their way!

One of the main problems that face CRTA venues and audiences is the fact that, unlike a conventional theatre space, the seating is often required to be on the floor and all on one level. This can cause restrictions to what audiences can see and therefore their enjoyment of the event. One group of CRTA volunteers led by promoter Linda Davenport, decided to tackle this problem head on and, in partnership with the Tattenhall Amateur Dramatics Society and the Barbour Institute Trustees, they put together a bid to, amongst others, Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme for modular staging blocks that can be flexible to double as a stage or raised seating areas.  Below is an article by Linda Davenport about the bid and how they went about it and what it now means to the CRTA audiences and other users of the Barbour Institute. To read the article in full please click on the link at the end of the piece below. CRTA wish to congratulate Linda and her team and Partners on this wonderful achievement. 

By Linda Davenport

Tattenhall Rural Touring Arts’ venue, The Barbour Institute (BI), has a large multi-use main hall. Over the years, we found that many visiting CRTA performers/companies, for different reasons, preferred to perform on the floor rather than on our stage. This led to many and repeated complaints from audience members that, if they were seated further back than Rows 3 or 4, even with a cabaret-style layout, they could see very little of the show which occurred below the performers’ waist height and that, consequently, their evening’s enjoyment had been significantly reduced. As time went on, we (the Tattenhall Rural Touring Arts Team) realised that we either had to try & solve this issue or risk losing forever a sizeable portion of our hitherto loyal supporters.

Our Problem

How do we create an improved audience viewing experience in a space with (a) no ability to install fixed raked seating, and (b) visiting companies bringing no raised staging?

Our Solution

Raise funds to buy modular staging units which can easily be assembled into robust tiered seating and rapidly deconstructed and stored at the end of the performance.

The Cost

We would need to raise £9500 for this equipment

PARTNERSHIPS were a necessary, attractive and effective way forward. It is my firm belief that forming partnerships with other voluntary local groups all working for the benefit of our village was the key to the success of our venture. Not only that, it forged connections within the village which will last long after the end of this project. Our Partners are:

  1. Tattenhall Amateur Dramatics Society (TADS) which was looking to replace its existing stage extension which was coming to the end of its useful life, and
  2. The Barbour Institute (BI) Trustees who agreed to store the kit in the BI and to add it to the BI’s general insurance. In return, all Partners agreed that the kit will be used as a community asset and made available at no charge to any community group using the BI, eg. the Guides, Tattenhall Singers, charity fund-raisers.

Fund-raising requires persistence, teamwork, good humour, the ability to write succinct reports & fill in online applications and an appreciation that you’re in it for the long haul – there’s no quick fix and much competition for the same funds. Many avenues we tried were unavailable to us for different reasons, eg. the purpose for which we need the kit fell outside the fund-holders parameters for giving. However, rather than talk about our unsuccessful bids, I want to celebrate and thank the people and organisations who did back the project. They are:

a)            Tattenhall & District Parish Council offered us £1500 provided we raised the rest from other sources,

b)            The Amateur Dramatics Society Management Committee voted £1000 towards the project,

c)            Arts Council England granted us £3500

d)            Our Ward Councillor (Cheshire West & Chester Council), Cllr Mike Jones, offered us up to £3500 in match funding from his Ward Councillor’s Personal Budget.

The Future

CRTA (Tattenhall) can be much more versatile when meeting the needs of performers & audience.

For example:

  • The rear rows of theatre-style seating can be raked so audiences can see all performers head-to-toe even when they are performing on the floor, or
  • Our stage can be extended along its full width from its current depth of 3.4m to 5.2m, or
  • Companies have a choice between performing on the floor or on a large, flat platform raised up to ½ metre off the floor.

Amongst its other advantages, our improved sight lines mean that CRTA (Tattenhall) can now consider hosting dance-based shows because we have more confidence that our audience will see the essential element of this art form, ie. the dancers’ feet.

*Delivery is planned for the first week of November, 2015.

To view the “Q-Plus” units we bought, go to www.stagesystems.co.uk Click on Products from the topline menu, then click on Tiered staging from the drop down menu.

Linda Davenport

Promoter, CRTA Tattenhall

28th September, 2015

To read the article in full please click on this link Tattenhall flexible seating article