What a crazy year that was. Did anyone see that coming? Well, we know some people did. We’ve seen the documentaries. But what we mean is, like, WOW! Didn’t expect that. All things aside, we didn’t just take yesterday as a day of reflection, we have been reflecting for the last 365 days and if we’re honest… In some bizarre way, it has helped. Never will businesses ever have time like they have in the past year to get to know their audience.
Roll the clocks back 12 months and after a week of uncertainty, we are all thrown in to this brand new, shared experience, not knowing when we will see our family and friends again. Businesses panicked about how they would make ends meet and whether the government support would be sufficient. We raised a glass on that Friday evening and toasted, ‘Until we see each other again!’ Little did everyone else know, it was GO GO GO from Monday morning.
We threw ourselves head first in to the world of online events, learning so many things on the fly, like how to live stream, the best platforms to use, how to reach as many people as possible and so much more. This week we actually talked about how we were closed by Boris on the Friday and come Monday evening we were hosting our usual Quiz night online. In reflection, how amazing was it to see how quickly everyone adapted to this totally bizarre, shared situation? We loved seeing how people innovated, finding new and exciting ways to promote their projects, products and more. We thought how we could use our platform to help artists promote their work and very quickly we were hosting online Open Mic Night’s, ‘Tip The Band’ was a new initiative that gave musicians the opportunity to gig from home and receive tips via PayPal from viewers watching from the comfort of their homes. Our very own Dancing Ben kept us entertained twice a week, teaching us new moves in his ‘Daytime Dancing’ classes. And we teamed up with friends like Alice Pea to deliver some Yoga, Reggae was the sound on a Saturday afternoon with our mate Phil Laing and so many more. We began selling merchandise and vouchers and saw the support really pour in with our GoFundMe absolutely smashing its target in only a matter of hours. With so much going on, before we knew it there was rumours of re-opening.
September swung round fast as summer passed us by and we geared up to re-open with a big surprise on our wall. We had been quietly working with our very good friend Molly Hawkins (the genius otherwise known as Molly Mural) to help bring our space to life. We were so excited to re-launch our venue with such a vibrant and eye catching mural that framed our stage so perfectly. We really could not wait to get some gigs booked in and see how it all looked under the lights. We re-opened on the 18th September, with new, COVID-SAFE measures in place, looking forward to seeing our friends, family and regulars back in the place they loved. When we originally opened, we wanted to create a ‘creative hub’ where artists of all kinds could come to mix, mingle, share ideas and promote their work. We were always so proud to see the place come to life, seeing strangers chatting about projects they had coming up or discussing mutual interests. BUT, with the new measures in place we had to find a way to do this, whilst also keeping people in their bubbles and at their tables.
It has always been in our nature to stay positive and encourage others to do the same and so after being forced to close for the second time in the same year, we decided we needed to spread a little joy. We launched the Arts Bar Song Contest and advertised a £500 cash prize to the winner! We had over 100 applicants and were amazed to see such a wide variety of such unique sounds. An independent judge had the tough job of shortlisting the entires down to 10 finalists and from there, the applicants were in the hands of Social Media. In one week, we had over 30,000 people tune in from all over the world to support their friends in the Song Contest. In the end, the wonderful Josefina Amon was crowned the Champion, taking home the £500, with her original song, ‘Do You See Me Now?’ Check out the video below;
Since then, we have carried on our mission of promoting new music by launching our new project ‘Library Sessions’. We wanted to show musicians how you can create high quality, professional content on your phone. ‘Library Sessions’ are all filmed on iPhone and edited on applications that are accessible to them. We have been so lucky to work with and listen to live sessions with some of our favourite musicians in the city. The support for the sessions has been amazing, with thousands of people tuning in to listen to their favourite local artists. There is so much more to come, so make sure to head to our YouTube page and subscribe to stay in touch.
On behalf of everyone from the Arts Bar, we are sending so much love to anyone who has lost someone close to them over the last 12 months and anyone who has struggled with their mental health. We feel for anyone who has lost a job or had to tackle lockdown on their own. And thank you, to everyone who has supported us, by tuning in to live events, donating to our fundraisers, sharing our posts and so much more. We are excited now. We can’t wait to be back, with some more surprises up our sleeves. And we promise, we will be back, bigger and better than ever. And it is going to feel so good.
See you soon,
The LAB Boys!