Back in 2019, pre-pandemic – in the old normal – places used to put on entertainment. We’d gather in tens, hundreds or thousands and watch something. Together. Sometimes it’d move us, sometimes make us laugh. Sometimes we’d love it, sometimes not so much. Afterwards we’d think about it, talk about it, maybe see our world a bit differently.
For the last year, save a glimpse of light in the depths of autumn, we’ve been inside. Entertainment has been become two-dimensional, a black screen dazzling us with stories. We’ve gorged on tiger kings and strictly stars and celebrities getting out of a jungle in Wales. Alone, or in small groups, we’ve stared at more colourful worlds.
Now, ever-so-gently, entertainment is returning to 3D. More than that, it’s returning to a shared experience. A group of strangers, in a room together, experiencing something new, for the first time. I can’t wait.
At the Town Hall, we’re kicking off with a long overdue celebration of live music and comedy – Get Up, Stand Up. Over the second May bank holiday weekend, musicians from across the region will perform outdoors in the glorious Sensory Garden behind the Town Hall. For ten hours, you’ll be able to stop and hear beautiful sounds unfiltered (or barely filtered) by technology.
In the evenings, you can come inside to our restored Old Court and see some of the most exciting stand-ups in the country. We’ve a mix of established – Robin Ince, Stuart Goldsmith – alongside the stars of tomorrow.
Kicking off on 4th June, we’re beginning our weekly independent cinema. Our opening screening is one of the most exciting films of the year – Sound of Metal. Its lead – the incredible Riz Ahmed – is one of five nominees for this year’s Best Actor Oscar. We’ve transformed our Park View room with a new projector, screen and sound system.
The following night, and for every Saturday in June and July, we’ve live music, comedy and cabaret in the Old Court. Our new bar will be open every night and you can grab food in the Town Hall too.
Our exhibition programme returns late spring as well, kicking off appropriately with A Series of Beginnings. Local professional artists, inspired through lockdown, open their sketchbooks and share their practice. A unique experience.
This remarkable programme has been pulled together by our masterful team of programmers and curators – Jen Hamblin (visual arts), Lorena Pino (film) and Gavin Osborn (music and comedy). It’s made possible by some generous funders, amongst them Arts Council England, Wiltshire Council and the British Film Institute.
So, as we peer out, eyes scrunched to the new light, I’d like to invite you to join us – in a darkened room lit by glowing festoons. Join us, and some other people you’ve never met, share a room, relax, maybe laugh, maybe see the world a bit differently. You’ll be very welcome.