On Tuesday 8 September, Gwilym Gibbons, Chief Executive of The Crichton Trust hosted his monthly update (rescheduled from 1 September) meeting on zoom.
Hospitality and Events: Given the significant challenges and uncertainties for the events and hospitality sector due to Covid-19 and the imminent end to the furlough Scheme, The Crichton Trust has had to make the difficult decision to down-scale venue operations between October 2020 and March 2021. As previously advised, Easterbrook Hall will remain closed until the end of March. With less footfall from both events and businesses on site, there is also less trade for Easterbrook Bistro.
A reduced catering service has been offered during August and the Eat Out to Help Scheme helped increase footfall in August. We are now running our own version offering 20% off Monday to Thursday in September.
By offering a reduced service in the Bistro, hosting a few small wedding ceremonies in the church and using Easterbrook Hall for occasional Council meetings to support the regional response to Covid-19, we are able to retain some members of the venues team. Although one redundancy is too many, there is only likely to be a small number of redundancies (single figures) within the venues team and we are doing everything possible to support colleagues and to minimise the impact on individuals.
While the diary is currently busy from March ’21 onwards, things won’t be as they were and we know there is an ongoing risk to business in 2021. For this reason, we are already looking at new ways of working including live streaming options to enable us to run events with a small live audience and a larger virtual audience.
Precautions: We are still very mindful of the need to reduce the spread of the virus as much as we can. We are actively encouraging everyone on site to practice good hygiene and to take extra care and precautions to limit the spread.
You may have noticed that we closed Easterbrook Bistro for a couple of days in August. We had two members of staff with Covid-19 symptoms and so we carried out a deep clean and as a precaution we closed until they were both tested and had the results back (which were both negative). We are aware that to protect our customers and our colleagues we are likely to have to open and close the venue at different times – this is just part of what we need to do right now to keep everyone safe.
Tenants: We have also had to deal with a positive case of coronavirus within one of our business properties in recent weeks. This seems to have been an isolated case and although we notified the other tenants in the building and carried out a deep clean, we have no evidence of the virus spreading within the building. We will of courses continue to encourage everyone to stay alert and to take extra precautions on site.
Outdoor space: We are still pleased to see an increase in the number of people using the grounds and gardens and we hope this will continue.
Future Planning: As a Trust we are also reviewing our strategy to protect the long-term future of The Crichton. Although our pre-Covid ambition to tackle carbon reduction, the future economy and the ageing society has not changed, we are very much focussing our efforts on a creating a safe environment to connect people at The Crichton. We are well aware of the need to provide people with opportunities and to create and strengthen relationships and partnerships and we are increasingly aware that of our new Crichton Central development will go some way in helping us to achieve this.
Crichton Central: We have been redeveloping the Criffel View building since June. This is where Fresco Cafe was. The transformation is now well underway and is scheduled to open in Spring 2021. It will have space for networking and knowledge exchange, facilities for small scale performances and live streaming, it will also have co-working spaces as well as meeting rooms and a radio station.
Heritage Charity: Through all of this, we keep reminding ourselves that The Crichton Trust is a heritage charity with a duty to maintain, develop and protect The Crichton forever. We do this by generating income from spaces and places and continually reviewing what we do and how we do it.
We have not had a formal update from the new owners (Fonab Hotels), although we appreciate it is a very challenging time for the hospitality sector and this project will require a significant investment. This building was previously owned by NHS.
It all depends on our ability to host events and if/when businesses return to their offices, but we hope job prospects will improve again in the Spring. Job roles are likely to be different by then and we may also have new opportunities within Crichton Central next year too.
Thank you to everyone who continues to join our meetings.
#TheCrichton #TheCrichtonCommunity #Aplacetobreathe #BuildBackBetter