Over the last six months we hope we have kept you entertained with our online events, regular emails and social media posts. We will be continuing with these as much as possible so that everyone can take part in our activities in ways that suit them.
But now it is also time for us to move to the next stage, to reopen our doors and to begin to offer you the option of coming back. We are taking things slowly but we want to start to provide the space for some of those things we’ve all missed in the last months – opportunities for connection, shared experiences and moments of joy.
We will begin slowly by initially opening Monday to Friday from 10.30am – 2.30pm. Our café will be open, along with our box office, museum and two new exhibitions. We will also start to show some live events and films in evenings and at weekends.
We are doing everything we can to make sure The Spring is just as inviting as ever. Safety of our staff and visitors is a key concern and means that your experience might look and feel a slightly different to previous visits, but you are always welcome!
One of the most important things in keeping everyone safe is social distancing. We are lucky that our café in particular is very spacious. We have removed many of our usual tables and can maintain 2m social distancing in the space. I can’t think of another café in Havant where this is as possible.
In line with the government requirements, we will be asking our visitors to wear face coverings in the building (unless they’re visiting the café) and to register their contact details for Track and Trace via text message. It is simply a case of texting your name to a number when you arrive. I know that this might feel intrusive so I really want to assure everyone that the information will only be used for the Track and Trace scheme and will only be passed on if we receive a report that someone who tested positive for Covid-19 has been in the building. The data is only accessible by The Spring’s managers and is kept securely at all time. It will be deleted after 21 days.
There is lots more information on all the actions we’re taking – and we’re asking our visitors to take – on our information pages here. If you choose to visit, please do help us keep everyone safe, as it is an important way you can protect not only other visitors but The Spring as an organisation too.
(As an aside, I’m aware that some people might feel the steps we’re taking are a bit much. If you feel like that I’d really ask that you still abide by our guidelines and requests. We want everyone to have a great experience at The Spring and it would be easy to make other people feel worried or concerned if you’re not taking our requests seriously. Plus we might have to ask you to leave which isn’t fun for anyone!)
Overall I hope you’ll be pleased and reassured to see the measures we’re taking and will be able to see how seriously we’re treating your safety. I am delighted that some of our staff who were hesitant about returning are now excited to re-join our team after reading our safety guidelines, knowing that we are acting sensibly and carefully, with everyone’s best interests at heart. This really made me smile as it demonstrated the value in our approach.
I don’t really want this blog to be all about the safety measures we are taking. You can read all about those elsewhere on the website and, although important, they are not the reason I love The Spring.
Instead, let me point you in the direction of the celebratory things we’re doing and the wonderful activities you can safely enjoy in our building once the doors open.
Before we closed we were working with Gobbledegook Theatre on The Cycle Project. We were planning to ride around and talk to our community in a pedi-cab, gathering up all the stories and creating a special exhibition that reflected Havant in 2020. Even with restrictions easing, chatting in a pedi-cab doesn’t seem the most sensible idea right now, so instead we’ve asked them to create Signs of Solidarity. In this new project we’ll be celebrating local lockdown heroes – those people who have made a positive difference to others in Havant recently. The people who have kept things going, helped those in need and who deserve some recognition. Keep an eye out over the next few months as we draw attention to these superstars in our community. It starts very close to home with a display in our own Sadler Gallery. During our closure, we were lucky enough to receive hundreds of messages of support and thanks. These meant such a lot to us (and there were lots of tears when they arrived!) as they showed us the fight for survival was all worthwhile. As part of Signs of Solidarity Gobbledegook have made some very special placards that use just some of the quotes and messages we received. These will be on display in our Sadler Gallery when you return.
The Mezzanine Gallery will also feature a new exhibition inspired by the lockdown. We have asked Nic Cowper and Jules Roper, our regular drawing and watercolour tutors, to create a new exhibition of the work they created in lockdown. It is these two artists response to an unprecedented situation and we are so pleased to be able to show you their work and support them too.
We are also really excited to launch our new interactive museum trail for families. Knowing that we would not be able to open our free role-play area for a while, we have instead created a new trail around the museum. Packs are free to collect from the box office and families can make their way around the museum (all while social distancing of course), doing some fun activities designed especially for us by A Line Art.
Over the past six months I’ve written several blogs which have each said how proud I am to lead the team at The Spring. I don’t have the words to adequately express how I feel about them - they are extraordinary. I have never worked with such a dedicated, hardworking and enthusiastic bunch and they make my job so much easier. Each member of the team has reduced their hours to shore up the organisation. Each one has gone above and beyond what was asked of them to help keep The Spring alive. And together we’ve done it. There is more to do (and if you’re interested in how you can help please see our Revitalising campaign here), but for now, The Spring is safe. We will reopen and we really hope we’ll see you soon.
Sophie and the team x