Harrogate Theatre column with David Bown

The Theatre Team performed brilliantly in the Knaresborough Bed Race.
The Theatre Team performed brilliantly in the Knaresborough Bed Race.

The world feels a very different place since I wrote my last column. The UK has experienced two horrific terrorist atrocities and then there was the little matter of a General Election, all within this last month.

A week before the London attacks I was staying with my family not far from Borough Market… the news a weekend later stopped me in my tracks quite abruptly.

I mention these events because my world has now been drawn into such events in a very tangible manner.

We are all affected and appalled I know, but the Manchester Arena incident has focused the security spotlight on all venues and public gatherings and has highlighted a significant degree of vulnerability.

If you have paid a visit to Harrogate Theatre recently you will have been greeted by our lovely security people outside the building. They are there, first and foremost, to provide reassurance and then of course to be on the lookout for anything that is not quite right.

While I was in London, the week after Manchester and a week before London Bridge, I was searched everywhere I went.

The theatre, shops, bars and all public buildings… I really didn’t mind and certainly everyone around me couldn’t do enough to help the security forces and the police. There was a collective sense of responsibility.

There were armed police everywhere.

On every street corner, patrolling parks and the South Bank where I spent some time. Indeed it was a little alarming to see guns on the streets of Harrogate after the events in Manchester and for the first time that I can remember.

I get a sense that we all accept increased security measures and they are very necessary. I for one am more than willing to assist as an individual and as a venue manager. So, if you pay a visit to Harrogate Theatre and you are carrying a bag or you are wearing a large coat, you may be briefly and politely searched. Please be patient and understanding. The same applies for The Royal Hall and the Harrogate Convention Centre. My advice is try not bring bags. Tuck essentials into pockets.

If we create a minimal bag culture when attending live events then queues will not form and people will not be offended. It will also be much easier for security people to identify quickly any suspicious behaviour.

Likewise have coats open and ready for a swift visual inspection. That’s all it takes.

Having said all that…please please continue to support all the live events that are happening in the town over the summer of which there are many.

Well, we now have a Conservative government, of sorts, to guide us through Brexit and maybe the next five years.

In terms of the arts, Karen Bradley secretary of state for culture, has not particularly impressed me. She lists her interests as “puzzles, travel, wine tasting and cooking”…other than tax relief and a new venue in Edinburgh there is little in the current manifesto to dine out on.

I attended my first Knaresborough Bed Race last Saturday. What marvellous crazy fun it was too.

Brilliantly organised by the town. Well done to the Theatre team, on their maiden voyage, they finished the gruelling course in 26 mins. All for a good cause.

Theatrical highlights here over the summer couldn’t be more contrasting from Strictly Murder this week, to Golem, The Father and A Judgement in Stone.

All have superb casts, so get along, you won’t be disappointed.