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To all who love St Martin-in-the-Fields

The impact of the pandemic on St Martin-in-the-Fields has been immense. A great many people have been working very hard to ensure the survival and the future of our beloved community. But the financial viability of St Martin’s is in jeopardy.

In many ways St Martin’s has responded to the pandemic with alacrity and imagination. Our congregational life and much of our music and public ministry transitioned successfully online. We launched an Emergency Appeal, and the public responded very generously. Our homeless work locally and nationally adapted to the new priorities of lockdown, and will continue to do so. On July 5 we were able to open the church to public worship again.

But our commercial activity is a different story. For 33 years, St Martin’s has been reliant on the income from its trading company, St Martin-in-the-Fields Ltd, through its cafés, concerts, shop and events. From March to June we couldn’t trade. The easing of lockdown doesn’t suddenly make trading straightforward. There’s currently very little footfall in central London. Our historic audiences and customers are severely constricted by the way the virus has affected travel and by the danger to public health.

We’ve had a drastic loss of commercial income. We see little prospect of that changing for some time. We have no choice: we have to scale back the organisation and reduce our overheads in order to survive. This means that we’ve made the distressing decision to enter a period of redundancy consultation with our staff. At the end of this period we may have to lose a large number of roles in our limited company, along with a number of other staff roles. As we reopen on a staged basis and to new trading conditions, we must ensure we have the right roles for this new future.

This is very painful moment: unimaginable five months ago. We’ve only reached this place after exploring all other options. We have a wonderful and resourceful team of people, who’ve shown passion, dynamism and commitment. We must now demonstrate how seriously we take our duty of care to them. This means reviewing our structure to ensure we are retaining the highest number of viable roles. It also means treating people with dignity and compassion – particularly in light of how tough the outlook for jobs and well-being is going to be for some time to come.

This is a heartbreaking and bewildering time for everyone who loves St Martin’s. It is hardest of all for our dedicated staff. The pandemic has shown us the breadth and depth of affection and respect St Martin’s attracts nationally and internationally. Even amid adversity we look to the future, when this iconic home will continue to entertain, nourish, inspire and transform an ever-wider national and international public. While reviewing our business operations, we’re envisaging a creative reopening so that we can relaunch our enterprise – wiser, smarter, on and off line, cherishing our staff, embodying the vision of our community and attuned to the aspirations of our customers.

Our guiding principle must be to bring St Martin’s to the point where, coming out of the pandemic, it has sector-leading practice and innovation on all fronts, and secure employment for the people who work within our community. We will sustain our commitment to be with the most vulnerable. We will continue to find beauty in places of hardship. We look forward to a future stronger than the past, with all our activities flourishing once again, and the doors of St Martin’s open to welcome people from around the world.

Our work with homeless and vulnerably housed people locally and nationally will continue as vigorously as ever. Our congregational life and our music will continue to make the most of whatever opportunities the public health situation permits. We shall need the support of our generous donors like never before. We want to live through this challenging time with the same qualities that have made our community so loved by so many.

Please note this is a consultation period only. No decisions have been made. Do still contact us for events bookings; if we can find a way to make them happen, then we’ll be glad to do so.

 

Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, sam.wells@smitf.org

Cathy Reid Jones, Chair of St Martin-in-the-Fields Limited, cathyreidjones@mac.com

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