News Director's Diary Director's Diary May 2021 With the weather impersonating mid-October, 'Spring time' has at least seen all at the Trust busy both indoors and out, preparing to reopen this Summer! We were thrilled to receive a grant of £80,000 from the Arts Council England Culture Recovery Fund to help us recover from the difficulties of lockdown and move towards reopening. Funds have been awarded by the Government to us and hundreds of other leading cultural organisations across the country, through the latest round of support. This grant provides essential investment for the Trust, to create welcoming spaces for our communities to visit, share and enjoy arts, culture, history and nature. It will help cover some key operating costs incurred whilst West Horsley Place had to remain closed and also introduce additional Covid-safety measures across the site ahead of you being able to return this Summer. Place Farm Barn, which will open to the public for the first time, will also be accessible thanks to this funding. In addition to cultural activities the stunning barn will also be available to hire for larger events such as weddings. Revenue raised from this will in turn go back into supporting future public programmes at West Horsley Place, as well as further repair and conservation works across the estate. As we deliver more we will need to expand our numbers, so I am pleased to announce that our small staff team is gaining a new addition. We will soon welcome Jo Ellison as our new Community Engagement Projects Coordinator, from late June. This National Lottery Heritage Funded role will see us starting to co-create and deliver a number of new activities with groups who may face barriers to accessing and enjoying heritage and cultural activities. Jo is experienced in delivering inclusive community events and arts workshops for a wide range of people, most recently for young children but also with others in community settings from Charing Cross Hospital, to YMCAs, to after-school clubs. Jo was also previously a Production Manager for Holy Trinity, Brompton. As I write, Grange Park Opera are busy preparing the grounds and Manor House for their forthcoming season, which begins on 10th June. It is really exciting for me to see it all take shape for the first time! And to anyone reading who is going to the Theatre in the Woods this year, I hope you have a fantastic time! Beyond West Horsley Place we are delighted to announce a new, long-term partnership with Woking Mind to promote and support mental health across Surrey. This has quickly evolved from 'Breathing Spaces' (an initial collaboration between our two charities), which explores how outdoor activities can improve wellbeing. Please keep an eye on our website for our first bookable activities- including group tours of the house, open days and performing arts events. I would also like to take a moment to say thank you for your patience and your ongoing support for the Trust. We are grateful to receive support and guidance from our local parish councils, borough and county councils, many local residents and all of our activity partners. Thank you and see you all (in real life) again soon!