Current Update – September 2020

25 September 2020

Alban Arena and Harpenden Halls Theatre Update:

The Alban Arena and Harpenden Public Halls remain closed due to the adherence of government guidelines and restrictions applied as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. Although it is positive to see some selected test events being approved by the government it is currently unlikely any audience events will be operated until 2021.   The recent reintroduction of restrictions around groups meeting together is likely to further delay any certainty around the return of the planned schedule.

The complete closure at the end of March 2020 has provided Wellbeing Fitness & Leisure Community Trust (charitable not for profit organisation), and its contractor 1Life who operate the facilities on behalf of St Albans City and District Council with an extremely challenging situation in regards to rescheduling performances and contacting a large number of ticket holders. Operator 1Life took advantage of the government Job Retention Scheme to protect its employees from immediate redundancy, however this has resulted in the box office being slow to respond to patron questions and requests as quickly as would normally be expected.

1Life has managed to reschedule over 90% of postponed performances into 2020 and beyond.  Current tickets will be moved automatically to the new date, and patrons will be contacted with revised ticket information in chronological order.

With many industries starting to recover from the effects of the enforced lockdown, the arts have been particularly hard hit with no income coming in and costs still being incurred to fund staff and the upkeep of facilities. 1Life, on behalf of Wellbeing Fitness & Leisure Community Trust, has made an application to the government’s arts grant scheme. These have yet to be awarded; we expect to hear whether support will be forthcoming at the beginning of October.

Perhaps the hardest decision 1Life and the Council have had to make is the cancellation of the much loved 2020 Panto season, which is probably best summed up by our Alban Arena Patron, Bob Golding who said: ‘For myself, all the team at Evolution Pantomimes and the Alban Arena family, this news is heart-breaking as we pride ourselves year after year on bringing the best possible quality panto to St Albans… and although  this isn’t the best announcement to make, please do continue to support your theatre in every way you can…. & like a Phoenix we WILL rise again.”

As with all postponed events, all Panto ticket holders will have their tickets transferred to an alternative date in 2021.

The theatre teams will continue to contact ticket holders via e-mail with their new dates and post the rescheduled shows on both Theatres websites and social media. Should you have any urgent need to contact the box office please email TheatreTickets@1life.co.uk for both venues and a member of the team will get back to all requests as soon as possible. We would appreciate your continued patience as we endeavour to rebook a large number of shows and make contact with ticket holders and producers.   Our theatre teams will also continue to work with producers to ensure we have the very best shows in the venues and make sure we ready to go when given the green light.

In the meantime Wellbeing Fitness & Leisure Community Trust, 1Life and St Albans City and District Council would like to thank all patrons for their continued understanding, support and patience in extremely difficult circumstances. We continue to work together to ensure the communities of St Albans and Harpenden have theatres which are able to open as soon as possible once the situation allows.