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If there’s one word that seems to have summed up these past few weeks it’s… ‘Strange’ 

Strange times indeed.

It’s been more than 3 weeks since Ventnor Exchange, along with every other venue, bar, shop and leisure facility in the land closed it’s doors indefinitely in response to the escalating coronavirus crisis. It’s been a scary and confusing time, as we all adjust to a very different world, where our freedoms and liberties are restricted, and a whirlwind of emotions hurl through each of us every day. Frustration and boredom combine together into a dulling mix during these long, warm April days.

To think just a month ago we where coming out of a long winter with a wave of optimism, announcing the first Ventnor Fringe acts and looking forward to Record Store Day. We’d just hosted a delegation from Arts Council England where we’d presented our vision for the future, our hopes and aspirations for the Island and why, in a place where it can often feel nothing changes, change was long overdue.

But the change that’s come is not what we’d envisaged.

“…strange times call for weird solutions, good job our mantra is ‘Keep Ventnor Weird”

Seeing a space you’ve worked so hard to create deserted, ticket sales vanish, events and tours cancelled, and all of your income drain away over night was a heartbreaking experience. The saving grace, if it can be described that way, was knowing everyone was tackling this experience together, we are all hit by the storm.

Against a backdrop of deserted streets we’ve been working fast to salvage and protect everything that has been created over the past ten years. You, our brilliant audience, stepped forward and donated over £2,000 in 2 weeks, for which we can’t thank you enough. At a time of need this gave us the confidence we needed to step up our efforts to secure new commissions and funding for projects which we can continue to work on remotely. Some of these bids we have been successful with, others not, but we’re confident we can now weather the storm and make it through. Our attention is now focussed on the longer term repercussions and economic downturn that is likely to follow, and to ensure we are financially resilient enough to survive it.

But it’s not enough just to survive, we need to be doing what we where set up to achieve, namely to ‘build an inclusive creative community’ and to help provide support and leadership when it’s needed most. With this in mind, Ventnor Exchange is very much open, even if our doors remain closed.

From this week we’re working on regular articles, playlists and creative projects to keep you entertained. We’re developing a whole new digital platform to provide creative opportunities for under 25’s, an online store for the record shop, online networking and support for creatives, and whole new commissions which you’ll be able to access online.

It may be a change from the norm, but strange times call for weird solutions, good job our mantra is ‘Keep Ventnor Weird’

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