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24th November 2020

Westgate Hall become a Produced in Kent Industry Partner

1. Why is Westgate Hall keen to work with PinK in particular?

We have long admired how Produced in Kent brings the county’s finest producers and makers together. This spirit resonates with what we do at Westgate Hall.
Our passion is building relationships and working with Kent producers, makers, cooks, artisans, charities, community groups, educational establishments, businesses and the leisure and tourism industry. Connecting with PinK will give us the opportunity to support even more businesses and producers from across the county.
Our monthly Westgate Hall Market showcases the talents of our local producers, and in 2019, we launched the first Canterbury Wine Festival in collaboration with our local Master of Wine, Clive Barlow, based at the Goods Shed. Having hosted 14 of Kent’s vineyards under one roof, we aim for the Wine Festival to become an annual Canterbury celebration of Kent’s burgeoning viticulture. We are currently planning for the return of the Festival in summer 2021.
Located in the heart of Canterbury City centre, a generous flexible space with an intimate feel, the Hall lends itself to welcoming a broad spectrum of events and we love helping to bring them to life.

2. Pink members are currently faced with many challenges: no physical events to meet customers and buyers, lost B2B trade, a second national lockdown, a potential hard Brexit – how important is the connection with Westgate Hall in this volatile economic climate?
This year, like so many of our fellow businesses, we have faced Covid-related challenges. However, community and connection have been at the heart of Westgate Hall since it opened as a drill hall for the Territorial Army in 1913. A trusted venue for over 100 years, we are committed to remaining so. Welcoming PinK members into our Hall community is part of this spirit.
Our priority since the first national lockdown has been to apply Government guidelines and make the Hall fully Covid-secure. We are delighted that VisitEngland has endorsed our efforts with its ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark.
Throughout this period, we have remained true to our civic duty by continuing to host vital NHS blood donations. We have also made it part of our mission to use our marketing and social media to support and celebrate our local businesses, ensuring we are working together to inspire consumer confidence while at the same time giving our colleagues and friends a virtual hug.
In September, we reopened for business with our fairs and markets, welcoming huge numbers of visitors eager to return, and hosted socially distanced live performances for Canterbury Festival in October.
Spacious, safe, and Covid-secure, the Hall is the largest neutral venue in the heart of Canterbury City. Its dimensions facilitate social distancing and mean it can be adapted for and host events ranging from networking, meetings, additional workspace, training, fairs, markets, performances, theatre rehearsals to community group workshops and sessions. Located in Pound Lane car park, the Hall is only a few minutes’ walk from stations and bus connections.
As an Industry Partner we aim to create opportunities for using the Hall adapted to this new and challenging climate, facilitate discussions, and showcase produce and businesses easily, flexibly, and safely.
In short, Westgate Hall stands strong in the face of adversity – we’ve survived two World Wars, defeated the threat of demolition 10 years ago, and we’re determined for the Hall to be here for our community through the challenges we are facing in its second century.

3. What positives have come out of the Covid crisis that you feel our members, with your support, can build on going forward? Community is at the core of everything we do at Westgate Hall. We would love to share with other members what we have learned during this Covid crisis, learn from their experiences and work together.

This period has prompted us to develop new ways of ensuring we meet our communities’ needs and sustaining our community mission. To this end, we are working tirelessly to adapt to this rapidly changing environment, implement Government Covid regulations and create Covid-responsive opportunities for our partners.

Our response to the crisis is helped by having our finger firmly on the pulse of the city’s economy and the impact of Covid on our business community thanks to our Chief Executive, Clare, who is on the BID Canterbury Board and Chair of its Events and Marketing Sub Committee.

As a result of these connections and efforts, we have been a venue for this year’s socially distanced Canterbury Festival and held successful Covid-secure markets and fairs. We have accelerated our business plan by setting up an online booking system and online shop for advance purchase of drinks from our licensed bar. Westgate Hall has also led a forum of local community Halls and venues to collectively troubleshoot and lobby for financial support during the pandemic; after all, we play a key role in keeping communities together.

In short, the crisis has brought us all closer, strengthening existing partnerships while creating opportunities for forging new connections with local makers and producers. We are now working with over 30 local businesses and charities.