In conversation with Nathalie, Head of Corporate Events at the V&A

As most of you will know, the V&A is one of our favourite London museums.  We love planning weddings, parties and corporate events there and exploring the incredible collection and exhibitions. Nothing beats wandering around the galleries and then dipping your toes in the water in the stunning John Madejski Garden on a sunny summer's day!

We are working on two weddings at the V&A next summer but we are itching to get back before then, so we are beyond excited that the Museum is reopening its doors to the public from tomorrow. We sat down with Nathalie Glaser, who has been Head of Corporate Events since 2012, to talk about the reopening and what it means for us in events.

Nathalie Glaser, Head of Events V&A

We are so pleased at the news that the Museum is re-opening to the public.  Can you tell us more about what will be open and when?

We’re reopening selected galleries and the John Madejski Garden on 6th August, Thursday to Sunday, from 11:00 until 15:00. It’s going to be ticketed, you’ll need to get your free tickets online in advance. There won’t be set routes like the National Gallery, you’ll be able to wander around the whole of the ground floor. We’ll be opening more fully in early September, with exhibitions and all levels open, still ticketed and Thursday to Sunday from 11:00 until 19:00.

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We have wedding couples and corporate clients interested in hire at the V&A for 2021. Are you now available for site visits in person and event hire for small numbers?

We are certainly available for site visits and event hire within the government guidelines.  Clients can contact us here to discuss dates, details and availability.

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What do the current restrictions mean for events at the V&A?

With guidelines changing by the day, it is a challenging time for us and we are waiting for the government to tell us more. For public opening we have sanitising stations and a one way system in and out of the Museum but as we haven’t done an event under these new restrictions we’re yet to nail down the finer details.

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We are really interested to know what’s being discussed by the leading event venues and when you expect to see events starting up again?

We really hope to be starting up soon. We've got a live stream event with Ellie Goulding happening in August, then we're fairly quiet for the rest of the autumn. We still have events pencilled in for later in 2020 but we don't know whether they will actually be able to go ahead. 

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Have you been discussing socially distanced and virtual events with your suppliers and have any of your corporate clients asked about these?

We have been discussing socially distanced events with our suppliers but our corporate clients haven't been talking about it. Some of them have blanket event bans for the next six months, so our target for re-engagement with them is Spring 2021. A lot are asking about virtual events with a curator showing them around a gallery or exhibition, which we are offering but restricting to Corporate Members because it is one of the few benefits we can actually offer them at the moment. 

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The heart of the V&A, the John Madejski Garden, is the idyllic setting for drinks receptions, wedding ceremonies and celebrations. What is the capacity and where would the wet weather options be at the moment?

We will only be open to the public from Thursday to Sunday, until we gauge what public appetite there is, which means we will be open for events from Monday to Wednesday with time to set up a marquee or covering in the Garden. The Garden capacity is 200 but until the government changes the guidelines, we wouldn't be going anywhere near that. We really hope that in September we might be able to offer more like 70 in the Garden or Dome but it all depends on guidelines.

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With caution about when events will be able to return with larger numbers, is there flexibility around your postponement terms or are you working on this event by event?

We were very flexible with our clients who had to cancel or postpone their events because of the lockdown, we realised that we needed to work with our clients and suppliers to get through this very difficult situation that's never happened before. For future events, we will continue to work event by event but we have changed our contracts to reflect the circumstances. We are  taking one day at a time.

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You mentioned when we spoke last that you've been working on some interesting new projects (in between the juggle of family, lockdown and everything else!) Are you ready to share any of these with us?

Yes absolutely! We have just launched our own V&A Events Instagram page which we are very excited about. Our handle is vamevents and we would love people to connect with us to see the incredible events that take place here.

We are also planning to reopen the Raphael Gallery in November after nine months of refurbishment. It can hold up to 400 guests for a standing reception or seated dinner and is going to look beautiful, we can’t wait to wait to welcome clients back.

Image credit: Holly Clark Photography for Golborne Events

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