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Huge thanks to everyone who has contributed so very kindly and generously to our appeal for funds, whether this has been a one-off through direct transfer, or monthly standing order, cheque sent to us, waiving of course fees and/or deposits already paid, both annual and life (and family) membership (welcome aboard!), a combination of these or in other ways. I am, on behalf of all who are part of and who love Benslow Music, enormously grateful to you all.

We are tantalisingly close to our target now, at 93.5% if one includes Gift Aid to the elements above. This a terrific outcome after a relatively short campaign. With your help we will survive, at least for now. Thank you!
There is still further to go. Can you help us with the final £13k? How wonderful it would be to reach the target after just two months (or exceed it). Are there 13 generous souls who could give £1k each? Or say 44 people (a full house) willing to donate the cost of a weekend course. Or, now that indoor performance is allowed again (hooray!) perhaps you might arrange matinees or soirees or concerts in aid of our appeal. How about Beethoven for Benslow or a Busking for Benslow all over the UK say at 3pm every Saturday?

The busking which has already taken place in Hitchin Market Square on Saturdays this month has been a great boon, raising funds, yes, but also, importantly, raising awareness locally. Many thanks indeed to all those fine local musicians who have contributed and especially to BMT Member Catriona Bevan whose concept it was and whose drive made it, and our outdoor performances happen.

At the time of writing Steven Isserlis’s solo performance here at our first Garden Prom had to be cancelled owing to the dire weather forecast. This was deeply disappointing but I am delighted to say that he has agreed to reschedule and is to come to us, with pianist, in October (indoors - more details to be confirmed soon). Seating indoors remains severely limited in order to keep sensible distancing so those who have held over tickets for his performance will take precedence. James Pearson (of Ronnie Scotts) and Sarah Ellen Hughes,
with Chris and Charlie Pyne, gave us a wonderful evening of jazz standards on a glorious evening on 20 August. Rising stars Tim Ridout (viola) and his friends Tim Crawford and Tim Posner (violin and cello, moved indoors for weather reasons) gave a fascinating programme on 27 August. We follow these with performances of folk music by the Moonrakers and another jazz evening with Sax Quartet and there are other fantastic events in the pipeline too. We are so grateful to all these performers for supporting us in this way and for the opportunity to hear live music making of this quality here again – and I know the performers are delighted to play to live audiences again.

We have begun to host residential courses on site, necessarily for limited numbers, and it’s great to see people here again feeling comfortable with the arrangements we have made to keep everyone safe. All credit to Chris, Tim and their teams for their superhuman efforts in achieving this so successfully.

An application has been made for some of the promised government funding for the arts via Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund, but we won’t know the outcome until October. Like so many other organisations, we have also applied for grants from major trusts.

But the key to success, however one defines that, is you our course members and well-wishers. We are most grateful for your support and long, as you do, for the time when you can all return to courses and concerts at Benslow Music. I hope it’s soon!

In the meantime thank you again, keep well, keep cheerful, keep making music as best you can in these extraordinary times.

Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive