At Cornwall 365 we spend a lot of time looking forward to things. When it is winter we are looking forward to festival season, outside theatre in unexpected places, alfresco feasts, exploring the World Heritage sites and wildlife walks. And when the evenings draw in, we look forward to cosy film screenings, meeting up for music and dance in our local village halls and getting up close with the many fascinating museum collections that document Cornwall’s past. There is always something exciting on the horizon and we love having our fingers on the pulse of all this creativity which Cornwall is teeming with.
Right now it doesn’t feel like we have much to look forward to. The team have been fielding calls and e mails from event organisers cancelling their listings and our C365 What’s On website is currently a holding place for what’s NOT on. Our cultural tourism network was about to spring back to life with a series of skills and networking events which are also now postponed. We bid farewell to our Creative Kernow colleagues at Krowji and the team is now working from home. I’m sharing a workspace (the kitchen table) with my husband who works for a housing association. Overhearing phonecalls to check tenants have got a working fridge to keep food in or to make emergency payments to food banks puts some things into perspective. Though with the high proportion of freelancers working in the experience economy who are not currently being offered the same kind of support as employers, we are sure that there will be many individuals within our network who are struggling to make ends meet and we send our warmest wishes and love – see the link to the petition below.
Culture and tourism have lots in common as business sectors. Both have the power to open minds, to bring joy and to bring people together. They have also always been vulnerable industries because they are considered “non-essential”. If you are trying to make cutbacks to your household spending, days out and holidays are usually the first things to go. Government funding – like the Cultural Destinations fund which started Cornwall 365 – comes in waves but is usually about pump priming activity that will then sustain itself. However close we came to extending the season and creating the conditions for resilience through bringing tourism and culture closer together, both sectors rely on people visiting us to fill rooms, buy tickets, form audiences, eat our food and bring energy and excitement. With Cornwall closed to visitors we have to face the fact that both sectors will be severely impacted. And that when we re-build we will need to do this together – supporting and learning from the unpredictable event that none of us saw coming. This will help us when we come to tackle the other devastating event that we have much better insight into but still appear to be in denial about – climate change.
Right now the imperative is to stop the spread of this cruel virus. As a rural area we have only one major hospital with just 15 critical care beds and owing to demand from our ageing population, the Royal Cornwall hospital is almost always on black alert. There are grave concerns about how an influx of visitors continuing with their plans for the Easter break or self-isolating in holiday homes could increase incidences of the illness and push our NHS services to breaking point. We urge any colleagues in the accommodation or cultural sector still accepting bookings or promoting opportunities to follow government advice and close until the situation improves. People will be safer at home where they can access their own GP services. And our communities will be safer and less anxious knowing that social distancing and self-isolation apply to all not just a select few. Responsible tourism is taking on a whole new meaning and we applaud those of you who are going the extra mile to reassure clients and audiences that they can re-book their holidays and experiences and enjoy Cornwall when the pandemic has passed.
What we are now looking forward to is bringing you more digital content. Over the next few weeks this will include listings for live streaming events via C365 What’s On, top picks of film, TV, podcasts, literature and articles all with a distinctively Cornish flavour. As well as enjoying this content yourselves, we recommend sharing it with your social media followers or mailing lists as a great way to stay in touch and make sure your business is remembered as responsible and caring.
We offer our Blog as a platform to our Network to share your ideas, concerns and thoughts. If other projects have fallen through and you have a burning issue you’d like to debate or a story that needs telling – this might be the perfect time to get writing. We are also pleased to post photo blogs so if you are out exercising – at a safe distance from others – we would love to see what you are seeing. Please get in touch if you have something to share.
C365 Project Manager Bethany Lyne and I will be hosting a weekly online open house for anyone who would like to ask for help, vent frustrations or share experiences. You can find us in our Whereby meeting room on Tuesdays from 2-3 pm https://whereby.com/cornwall365
We will also be taking over Cornwall Museums’ Partnership twitter feed on Tuesday 31st March from 7-8 pm for a discussion about how Covid19 is affecting tourism. @cornwallmp #RDNetwork
We look forward to seeing you all soon but for now, stay safe, stay well and stay in touch.
List your digital experience at Cornwall 365 What’s On or talk to us about a blog post by e mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to petition to create an emergency fund to support freelancers here
Government advice on non-essential travel here
Statement from Cornwall Council, Visit Cornwall, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and Public Health England here
Cornwall Live article about how isolation is bringing communities in St Just and Pendeen together