Business Minister Paul Scully heard how the Royal Shakespeare Company and tourism attractions in Warwickshire have been faring following the pandemic.
The Minister visited Stratford-upon-Avon where he toured the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the RSC Tower and the RSC’s Costume Workshop, followed by a trip to the newly reopened Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall.
Mr Scully met with the RSC’s Acting Artistic Director Erica Whyman and members of the Shakespeare’s Schoolroom Trust to learn more about how each venue is approaching its Covid-recovery.
Erica Whyman, RSC Acting Artistic Director, said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities around the country and feed off each other to create vibrant and great places to live and work. It has been staggeringly challenging for all, and the theatre sector is no exception.
“We are slowly beginning to recover from the pandemic, but it will take time whilst confidence grows amongst audiences and visitors. Ongoing support is needed and welcomed and we will work together with Stratford and the wider region to make sure we emerge with strength and showcase everything our county has to offer.”
Mr Scully also discovered more about Warwickshire County Council’s Project Warwickshire, a scheme to aid the recovery of small businesses in the tourism, hospitality and leisure industry following the pandemic.
The Minister discussed Project Warwickshire with Cllr Kam Kaur, Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Heather Timms, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate & Culture, Helen Peters, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s England and Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
Business Minister Paul Scully said: “Local businesses have been receiving a real boost from Project Warwickshire which is providing help including advice, networking and a range of masterclasses.
“Alongside government support like Help to Grow, we’re helping businesses recover from the slings and arrows of Covid-19 so we can level up every part of the country.”
Councillor Kaur, said: “Stratford-Upon Avon is one of the many jewels in the Warwickshire crown and a big contributing factor to making this county the best place to live, visit, work and play.
“We were very happy to welcome the Minister today and to showcase the many things that make Stratford such a fantastic town.
“We were particularly happy to share with the minister the progress with the Project Warwickshire initiative, which was primarily funded by the Council.
“We are proud to say that the project has already assisted 53 businesses across the County including a new gin distillery in Warwick, a camel farm and dairy, a cidery, cat café, narrow boat firm and a glamping site in offering one-to-one business coaching, and practical workshops on subjects including social media, marketing, recruitment and creating an online presence.”
Lindsey Armstrong, General Manager of Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall, highlighted the support provided by Project Warwickshire to the 16th century building where Shakespeare went to school.
She said: “Project Warwickshire provided the business with valuable insights towards developing its marketing strategy as well as great knowledge about social media management. The support from the team, particularly Russell Grant, is hugely appreciated.”
Helen Peters, CEO of Shakespeare’s England, the regional tourism organisation for South Warwickshire and surrounding areas, said: “We very much enjoyed showing the minister Paul Scully around some of the sights in beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon.
“Project Warwickshire has been a useful tool in helping many small tourism businesses across Warwickshire to get back on their feet after the pandemic. We were delighted to partner with CW Chamber in providing the business engagement and ensuring not only Shakespeare’s England Members but all tourism and leisure businesses were aware of the opportunity.
“It is brilliant that so many of our tourist attractions and hospitality businesses have embraced and benefited from the scheme already. There has been some very positive feedback.”
Project Warwickshire is funded by Warwickshire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale project. It is delivered, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Shakespeare’s England also working with Northern Warwickshire Tourism.