Looking back over this first, incredible year for The Pearl Exchange, we almost can’t believe how far we’ve come.
From our initial fundraising ‘Feasts’, to our live streams in the early days of lockdown, to our move into the Pitch and Putt building and our ‘Taster Week’ workshops, it’s been amazing and we’re overwhelmed by the support we’ve had from our community. So many people have given their time, money, energy and resources to help us take The Pearl Exchange from an idea to a reality and something that will have a positive impact on people’s lives.
Three Pearl Exchange Feast’s kick started the fundraising. Delicious menus by Tim Spedding, Cass Titcome at Brassica and Alex and Freddy at The Rocket Store meant tickets completely sold out and the fantastic prizes donated to the auction helped raise over £20,000! Wow!
Soon after, undeterred by lock down, our first events were live streams on social media. Jen’s Kundalini yoga class, Alex and Freddy’s cook along, Tim’s foraging cook along, Kaylie’s dance class, Deeper Crates DJ set, Katie’s mono printing, Sam at Granite and Glitter’s beautiful poem and video and Beau’s gorgeous music performance, all set the tone and established our presence as an exciting new project offering support to young adults.
Our next task was to find a home. It had to be Bude, somewhere we felt was perfectly situated and would really benefit from what The Pearl Exchange has to offer.
In conversation with Tony Gibbs at Bude and Stratton Town Council we discovered the Pitch and Putt building near Crooklet’s beach. It was perfect! We’re so grateful for the support we had from the council, especially town clerk Keith Cornwell and our mayor Bob Willingham who recognised the need and could see how much the community would gain.
We got the keys on October 1st which gave us less than a month to transform it into our vision. Eeek! And yet as well as re-decorating and fitting out the Pitch and Putt Studio, renovating and fitting out a container for our therapy space, we even managed to convert a horse box into the Pearl Exchange cafe bar – all in time for opening!
It wouldn’t have been possible without an army of tradesmen, volunteers and donations of materials, funds, furniture and food from across our local community. Everyone gave what they could and we thank you, this space belongs to us all.
We decided the best way to introduce ourselves would be a ‘Taster Week’ full of events, workshops and talks showcasing the art, music, inspirational talks, writing, dance, wellbeing, therapy and counselling we hope in time to offer permanently.
We signed up the best local talent and inspirational figures knowing they would be brilliant and they were, all the workshops without exception, were great. Plus everyone gave their time for which we are deeply grateful. It’s crucial for us that as much as possible is free to attend – we can’t allow finance to be a barrier to access and as we all know, in Cornwall money is tight.
We were also able to offer free one off counselling sessions thanks to our wonderful team of volunteers Joanna, Lucilla, Chloe, Davina and Claire. This is something we plan to extend in the future as it is so important for young people in our community.
The atmosphere during the week and the feedback we’ve had since is simply amazing. It worked! The positivity was palpable, the people who came said they loved it, learned new skills, felt energised, motivated, relaxed, more confident, tried new things and felt changed! We couldn’t be happier, we’re on the right track and The Pearl Exchange as a creative, nurturing hub has landed.
We have to give credit to our young front of house team, Natassia, Megan, Charlie, Archie, Sean and Arion. Thank you guys you did a fantastic job and we’re so proud of you all.
We don’t have time to sit on our laurels. Plans for next year are well underway including more fundraising to enable us to grow and develop, promotion to increase our reach and the acquisition of two more containers to give us more space. Plus, despite Covid we want to offer workshops as soon as possible.
We’re also planning exciting collaborations with artists, creatives and makers from all over the country. We want to present exhibitions and events from a diverse range of arts people wouldn’t otherwise get to see or take part in. Watch this space (and social media) for updates!
We’re also thrilled to be able to offer access to hugely subsidised counselling and therapy sessions. Many young adults in our community struggle with mental health, these sessions could be critical in helping those who need it most.
Your backing from the beginning and throughout this year has been incredible, it’s as though we all have a collective understanding of how much we need to help young adults in our community, people who feel disconnected, left behind or unsure of where they’re going in their lives. We’re so proud and salute you all.
Our ambitions for the future are boundless. It’s our mission to create new, life changing experiences, instill confidence and give hope of a positive future. We hope you’ll continue with us on our journey and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on our progress.
All at the Pearl Exchange x