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A Year Since Lockdown - Maria Marra

By Maria Marra, owner of Unite Stage Academy, which is based in the Dolphin Shopping Centre Poole. It's a stage school for children ages 5+.

March 23 marks a year since lockdown began and the reality of the pandemic hit the UK. What are your memories of that day?

It was a very sad day, not knowing any answers, or when we would return to the studio. In our minds we thought it could only be a month, and didn’t realise the actual impact on the staff, the business, the students and families. I remember the absolute devastation as we were supposed to take to the stage with our Youth Theatre group.

What actions did you take to save/change/pivot/support your business?

We quickly made sure that our students' learning would not be affected and quickly moved all classes onto zoom.  This was something that we had never done before in our lifetime of teaching, and we soon realised how hard and challenging it would be but, as always, we worked as a team and made the most of what we could with the classes and provided as much love and support as possible.

Name up to three positive outcomes of the last year for your business?

To be honest there weren't many. The only one that I can think of is the unity and love and support we showed each other, and not just us, all businesses.

Name up to three positive outcomes for you personally over the last year?

Personally I have been able to invest in creating and building the future of the stage school. I've also taken courses to improve my continued professional development, as well as support my team around me.

What do you most look forward to doing IN BUSINESS as we slowly move out of lockdown? 

Looking forward to uniting with our students, providing them with face to face classes and continue ‘uniting our community by fostering and cultivating self esteem and acceptance through performance. Most of all rebuilding the loss.

What do you most look forward to doing IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE as we slowly move out of lockdown?

Just to be able to be free, to not have to worry about what we can and cannot do. To be able to see our students, work colleagues, and to be able to see friends and of course the theatre. WOW that will be an emotional experience.

What are your predictions for business generally in late 2021 into 2022?

It can easily go two ways, I think it’s going to be a hard year where all of us will be skeptical on spending money, because of the uncertainty of “ Will be going into another lockdown.” Or the other way is obvious, people just want to live normally and will spend money as they’ve saved money during lockdown.

In all I think it will take a lot of businesses a long time to recover the losses they have faced over the year. Of course us, we are looking forward to being able to rebuild, and in a way that is so exciting.

Name one person who has been a lockdown hero for you over the last year?

To be honest everyone has been but most of all the students from Unite Stage Academy. They have kept us going and we know we will reunite with them soon. It's the students that have been so resilient and such heroes. It’s difficult for the little ones to understand why they are not allowed to see their friends, or do the things they enjoy. So for me and I’m sure all of us, the students have been heroes.

Name one business which has been heroic for you or your community over the last year?

We can’t ignore the doctors and nurses that have worked day in day out in the hospitals but most of all everyone behind the scenes at the doctors' surgeries and hospitals, BCP council and their team, the supermarket staff, the restaurants trying to keep afloat, the electricians, and plumbers. The list is endless and I don’t think you can just name one business as we are all in this together.

Find out more about Unite Stage Academy by visiting their website: www.unitestageacademy.com

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