Moving forward, looking back: a year of ingenuity for Darlington Hippodrome.
On Monday 16th March 2020, Darlington Hippodrome temporarily closed its doors following official government guidance that advised people should avoid public buildings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s been a demanding and unpredictable year since then, but thanks to the theatre’s dedicated staff and, most importantly, their loyal customers, there has been plenty to smile about and take part in over the last year.
The regular online Hippodrome Pub Quiz (without the pub!) has been the smash hit of the year. Marketing Officer Julian Cound has excelled as the genial host of the regular brain workouts. Julian has helmed 67 trivia streams which have seen over 4200 quizzers take part!
It’s been a challenge to keep active whilst we’ve been in lockdown but with the help of dance partners The D Project, the theatre has put on over 50 dance fitness sessions for adults. The Monday Movers session for the over 65s has proven particularly popular. The kids have been alright too with 130 youth theatre and dance sessions taking place onstage (when restrictions allowed) and online.
Senior House Manager Andy Hutchinson-Clish took us on a virtual tour around the Hippodrome’s usually off-limits backstage areas and led viewers on a virtual ghost tour (the theatre has so many ghosts this required two videos!). These videos have racked up over 10,400 views.
The Hippodrome’s two charities of the year, St Teresa’s Hospice and Darlington Samaritans, have been the recipients of the continued generosity of the theatre’s following. Over the last year, participants in our Hippodrome Pub Quiz have donated £315 to Darlington Samaritans. In early December 2020, a group of staff (and a few dogs) ran the St Teresa’s Hospice Santa Fun Run dressed as Santas, raising an incredible £1290 to help the hospice continue the vital work they do.
And it’s not just external charities that have experienced the kindness of the theatre-going public – a staggering £20,000 has been donated to the theatre by customers.
People have also been able to enjoy classic cinema screenings, book clubs, artist masterclasses, literary livestreams, a digital careers fair, and life drawing sessions.
There is hope on the horizon for the return of live events and the Hippodrome team are working hard to continue their innovative programme of online events whilst planning an exciting programme of public events both inside and outside the theatre.
Councillor Andy Keir, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for local services, said “The theatre has faced a tough year but managed to keep the public engaged with an exciting and regular programme of events and activities. The generosity of the public towards the theatre’s chosen charities and the theatre itself has been heart-warming and commendable. There is some light at the end of the tunnel and I’m sure we all can’t wait until we’re able to enjoy the Hippodrome again in person.”
Keep up to date with what’s going on at the theatre by following them on social media:
Find out what’s on: www.darlingtonhippodrome.co.uk/whats-on