At the moment most of us are used to one venue in our lives, our own homes. When we’re allowed to celebrate in the community again, in many ways choosing the perfect venue will be more important than ever.
Planning events – from life-changing ones like weddings or civil ceremonies, to celebrations of hard work like conferences or filming – in a post pandemic world is certainly going to feel different, but in Hackney we’re lucky to be able to rely on the history of the area so that events can still look the same. Several of Hackney’s biggest and most well-known buildings are available for hire for weddings, parties and corporate events.
From Grade 2 listed buildings like Hackney Town Hall and Stoke Newington Town Hall to a new modern glass house opening in Springfield Park this year, there are a surprising amount of well-known Hackney buildings making up the Hackney Venues portfolio that can be hired for events.
“The Hackney Venues portfolio is as diverse as its residents. It all started 11 years ago following a soft refurbishment in Stoke Newington Town Hall when it was decided to start renting it out. This turned out to be a success, and spaces kept being added to the portfolio” Christine Houston, the General Manager for the Hackney Venues, tells us.
Hackney Venues has hosted some exciting events over the years: the after party for the ITV Soap Awards, a gala for the Hackney LGBTQ community favourite The Glory, and brands like Adidas and MTV have used venues for launches. Dan Rothman from London Grammar had his wedding at Hackney Town Hall, as well as a few more well known celebrities.
Christine continued: “Contrary to many other venues our main goal is not making a profit but offsetting costs to utilise in frontline services and activities. When the Glass House opens this year we will have 13 spaces over four venues with capacities from 5 – 500 people standing”
“Hackney Town Hall is the jewel of the crown: easily the busiest of our buildings with five stunning spaces that allow us to hold dinners for up to 300 people. Stoke Newington Town Hall has a more traditional character in its Assembly Hall, but is still very fun: it holds Europe’s largest working mirror ball. Clissold House is a beautiful mansion house for the feeling of an intimate countryside wedding or private event in the busy area of Stoke Newington. The Glass House, situated in Springfield Park in the space of an old glass house, will allow events and weddings for up to 150 guests under beautiful skylights.”
What have events been like recently? Outside small ceremonies, there was only one event in 2020, an NHS flu vaccination event in Hackney Town Hall. Christine said “This stretched our usual planning to a whole new level, however it was one of the most memorable events I have worked on.”
Her team made themselves available for redeployment within the Council and have worked in frontline services throughout the pandemic. Christine told us, “having seen the venues be still and quiet over this last year has been sad. There is nothing better to see an event come to fruition after months of planning and I can’t wait to open our doors again.”
But the past year hasn’t been a loss for learning experiences and ways to help people get the best out of their events. “2020 taught us that technology could make life easier, helping build a rapport with clients on Google Meets rather than a plain phone call, as well as reducing onsite meetings and visits.” Christine said.
Her advice to anyone thinking of an event in 2021 is: “When planning, consider your date and number of guests to decide the best venue and way forward around potential restrictions. I think the key thing at this stage is to be realistic about timeframes and social distancing measures that may be in place. Our team can help with planning and can certainly advise on some of the stages you need to consider.”
Words: Victoria Gray