Hear how The So & So Arts Club is pushing through the challenges of Coronavirus (COVID-19) with London Business Hub support, empowering them to carry on.
The So & So Arts Club was founded eight years ago with a vision to form a broad community of people from across the creative industry, to open doors and build a supportive network and platform to develop professional paid opportunities. So & So Arts Club combines the talent and resources of actors, writers, directors, designers, musicians, artists and producers, creating possibilities in the intensely competitive market of show business.
Founder and Artistic Director, Sarah Berger started the business after 32 years as an actress, using contacts from her career to offer support and encourage people to collaborate. The business continues to pave the way in breaking down barriers for people who might have found it hard to break into the performing arts, bringing people from across generations and ethnicities together to generate paid work.
I founded So & So Arts Club to give people a little bit more control over their careers. I started running buildings five years ago, as one of the key difficulties in the arts is finding affordable space to create and share your work. This is an area in which we have managed to make a real difference.Sarah Berger, Founder and Artistic Director
Tough times don’t last, tough people do.
Like many other small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced immediate and disastrous circumstances for Sarah’s business. The business had to close down during lockdown and was unable to reopen for the foreseeable future. Financial implications led to future commitments and programmes being postponed and difficult decisions regarding staff along the way.
Benefits of having a Business Adviser
Initially the So & So Arts Club reached out to the London Business Hub to look for financial aid and business advice, to help pivot and restructure the business in order to survive. The dedicated business adviser Raj Tandon provided general business advice specific to the industry. Moreover, he provided avenues for seeking financial help and connected Sarah with helpful contacts such as the Hammersmith and Fulham council who could support the business. Sarah found great comfort in having a listening ear and professional guidance that’s wasn’t emotionally driven to help with the club’s particular set of challenges in a complex and ever-changing situation.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the London Business Hub as it has been an invaluable source of advice and support for both the business and me personally. At a time when the pressure seemed insurmountable and I came close to giving up, it gave me the strength and purpose to carry on.Sarah Berger, Founder and Artistic Director
Sarah’s first objective was to save the venue, due to its value as a community hub. Seeking support from the London Business Hub proved to be most vital during this tough period, particularly when Sarah became ill with COVID-19 and had to go into self-isolation.
Sarah was also able to access support from City Hall, including a free webinar on applying for the Culture Recovery Fund hosted by the London Business Hub and setting up a campaign on the Mayor of London’s Pay it Forward London programme. View ‘The So & So Arts Club’ Crowdfunder here. The campaign closed on 25 October 2020.
It is so important to support organisations such as this and more so because Sarah is an amazing and selfless person who spends every minute of every day putting her heart, soul, blood, sweat and as a result of COVID I am sure a few tears into the club. I for one feel it a privilege to do what I can to support her in this venture.Raj Tandon, London Business Hub Adviser
London Business Hub support makes a difference
Due to the support and advice she received from the London Business Hub, Sarah has made key business decisions, such as renegotiating terms with the landlord and restructuring the venue to maximise the use of space. Sarah handed over the responsibility of running the cafe part of the venue, thereby relieving some of her financial burdens.
Additionally, financial support received through the advice offered has enabled Sarah to finish building work and maintain the venue until it can return to normal service.
However, one of Sarah’s biggest benefits from her time with the London Business Hub is a confidence boost – helping her stay motivated to steer her business through the challenges of COVID-19.
Sarah’s advice to other small businesses
Sarah encourages any other businesses that find themselves in similar situations during the COVID-19 crisis to take advantage of available help.
“I would say find all the help you can get. Don’t be afraid or too proud to reach out. Two heads are better than one and at a time where many small businesses are facing closure with all the stress that entails it’s important to have someone on your side. Working with the London Business Hub can have a transformative effect on the business… simple as that!”
The So & So Arts Club’s next objective is to complete its Pay it Forward London crowdfunding campaign to help prepare the venue to re-open.
Sarah has also produced a unique, COVID-safe film and theatre festival called ‘The Capsule Festival’. The festival was featured on Good Morning Britain, as part of its coverage on saving British theatre.
Additionally, Sarah has been nominated for an ‘International Women in Theatre Award’, a prestigious by the League of Professional Theatre Women, presented every three years. The award acknowledges the exceptional work of women internationally, to amplify their voices across the globe, highlighting their work as cultural diplomats.
Once the campaign closed on Sunday 25 October 2020, the Mayor matched the money raised through the Pay it Forward London campaign, upon reaching her crowdfunding target. As a result of all the support received, Sarah now has greater hope in the future of the club.
November 2020 update:
We, at the London Business Hub, would like to congratulate the So & So Arts Club for their successful Pay It Forward campaign which counted with 241 supporters in 42 days.
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