Honour from the Queen for theatre boss who swapped plays for putting food on the tables of Holbeck families
This time last year the Slung Low Theatre company was pulling pints in one half of its building and putting on plays and performances in the other.
Fast forward to a world-wide pandemic and now the organisation, plus a 150 strong team of volunteers and its base at Holbeck WMC, has responded to more than 8,000 requests for help which included picking up prescriptions and putting food on the table for people struggling to cope with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Co-ordination that response is Alan Lane, the artistic director at Slung Low who is being awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours List.
The 42-year-old from Honley said he was “overwhelmed” by the accolade, which he added, was for everyone working together in what is one of the most deprived areas of Leeds.
While theatre, the arts and events as we know them are not likely to return to normal for some time, Mr Lane says Slung Low and Holbeck WMC are all set to start 2021 as they left 2020.
He added: “It has been tough all year and will continue and we will go again in the new year. Whether it be foodbanks, art galleries in the street or theatre outside, they are extensions of what we did before but there is no point putting an amazing play on in a car park if everybody is at home stressed about where their next meal is coming from.
“Our community is not just about the building but the people. The same mission will continue to evolve. The foodbank will carry on. We will have healthy cooking classes and it is part of the same mission to provide the best cultural life for the people of Holbeck. Holbeck WMC is the oldest working men’s club in the country. The constitution says about spirit and social support. That was in 1871 and we are still doing that.”
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