Here are some highlights from this morning’s interview of Alex Clifton, Artistic Director of Storyhouse, by Erik Boekesteijn: Storyhouse is in an art deco building in Chester, a mid-size U.K. city that serves about 138,000 people. It is a combination of library, cafe, theatre and cinema, open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. The building integrates all those elements and has no lockable doors. Alex says it’s full of life, a busy and playful place where people can discover new ideas. It puts poetry on its walls and floors.
Before the pandemic, it has 2,000 activities and 1 million visitors. Now that it offers many services online, it hosts 80 events every month. To deal with the inevitable digital exclusion, it sends materials, such as arts & crafts activities for children, through the mail. Volunteers on bikes also deliver materials.
The library is a hybrid organization that reflects its vibrant and diverse city, empowering minority communities. It works with 113 charities to do this.
Intriguingly, Alex once performed Storyhouse’s annual report on stage. The Young Leaders program gives marginalized youths the opportunity to build program activities within the building, giving them full access to the building. That has also moved online.
Storyhouse has a very local focus and believes relationships with local libraries are very important.
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