Sadly, the pandemic hasn't been too kind to the Story Stork. It's unsurprising that I've struggled, what with Story Storks basically being a theatre company. It's pretty well accepted that the arts sector has been one of the hardest hit and it's likely that the sector will be permanently changed. Let's hope for the better.
What's worse - last year was the year that I got a bit of a break. Story Storks had been asked to be the main Christmas Show at The Exchange in Twickenham. It's a bigger theatre than the ACT, but also has a dedicated Front of House and Marketing team, so I wouldn't have had to do literally everything. I was so excited. Not only would I have had a bigger team at the theatre to work with, but the money made off the Christmas Show would have meant that I could start to produce the literacy materials that I've wanted to do for so long. Dreams were coming true left, right and centre.
And then a flipping global pandemic struck. TEN YEARS I've worked to get that break. COME ON!
At the beginning of the pandemic, the only real funding option open to me was the Arts Council who have been given a whopping amount of money from the government to help out the arts. But Story Storks isn't big enough for the 'rescue' money, so instead, I had to apply for a grant for the arts which is measured against the Arts Councils' artistic values rather than whether or not I was financially viable before the pandemic (which I was). I was told, in a standard e-mail, that Story Storks wasn't getting a grant because my application wasn't as engaging/high quality as other applicants. I didn't bother to follow it up. The appearance of a '/' in the e-mail told me that the Arts Council was made up of a bunch of humans with an overwhelming task and I stood no chance of convincing them to come and see just how engaging Story Storks actually is.
So I struggled on, and I got support in the places where I always get it - the Mums and Dads and Grandparents and Nannies who adore stories as much as I do and want to pass them on. So many of you have turned up to everything I've done. The online workshops attracted people from Essex, Scotland, East London and even Austria! Many of you sat through a heatwave with me down the Fairfield (my goodness I was ill after that one!) I've had support from the local Councillors and the borough's Parks team which was wonderful, and Kingston College has thrown the might of their work experience program at me too. We were accepted to be part of the Totally Thames Festival and they supported us to deliver the Whittington project. There were so many small acts of support that, added together, kept me going.