Guest Blog Post – Verity Anthony on ‘The Trench’ at Cornwall’s Regimental Museum

The Trench was a collaboration between Cornwall’s Regimental Museum, Bodmin & Wenford Steam Railway, Collective Arts and Bodmin College. Funded by a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and grants from Arts Council England and Feast, the project had the community at its heart. With a script based on real battles fought by the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, it has, in this 100th anniversary year of the end of WWI, been a unique opportunity to bring to life some of the experiences of those who fought. Supported by a small group of professional actors, community performers of all ages and audience members took on the roles of soldiers fighting in the trenches in WWI.

Each character in the play was based on a real soldier who had been researched by a team of 30 researchers from the local community, led by a volunteer from Cornwall’s Regimental Museum. Many of these soldiers are those of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, and the archives of Cornwall’s Regimental Museum have provided a rich source of information. This has been further supplemented with diligent research using a range of online resources and other archives by the fantastic team of volunteers, including students from Exeter University who undertook research as part of their course assessments. The community has further rallied round by taking on a range of roles as nurses with Wenches in Trenches or working in the Box Office.

Audience members ‘enlisted’ at the Museum, where they were issued with kit, and the identity of one of the 80 soldiers who has been researched. The audience were then mustered, handed a rifle and marched down to Bodmin & Wenford Steam Railway. Here they boarded the steam train and travelled to ‘The Trench’. Built on land with kind permission of The Lanhydrock Estate Company, it will give an insight in to the experience of life in a trench complete with noise, explosions….and weather. After returning by steam train to the Museum, you would hear the fate of your soldier, and be able to learn more about them in a specially designed exhibition featuring profiles of the 80 soldiers, and a range of artefacts relating to them not currently displayed in the museum.

As well as the main Trench experience, there were also four short plays, which were performed in the historic attic space of Cornwall’s Regimental Museum.  They are about DH Lawrence, Harleigh School (the precursor to Bodmin College), Lanhydrock, and women’s experience of WWI.

The project has been a fantastic opportunity for the Museum and its partners to work to bring the community together to honour those who served in WWI. All the hard work has helped to commemorate those who served, including the many who lost their lives. The stories of these men will go on to be told long-term through the archives and collections of the Museum which have been greatly enhanced by the information gathered as part of the project.

You can learn more here:

https://www.thetrenchbodmin.co.uk/

Verity Anthony Cornwall's Regimental Museum

Verity Anthony, Visitor Experience and Collections Manager, Cornwall’s Regimental Museum

 

Guest Blog Post – Felicity Tattersall on leading the Perranzabuloe ‘Memory and Now’ Project

This project was funded by Cornwall Museums Partnership and South West Museum Development.

I’m an artist who is heavily inspired by the narrative that historic objects hold. You could almost say I’m obsessed with the way in which objects can tell stories.  I became involved in the ‘Memory & Now’ project with Perranzabuloe Museum because the museum team are really wonderful, they achieve a huge amount for a small volunteer run museum, and they have been really supportive of my ideas when we worked together on a ‘Big Draw’ event. I was also impressed with the way they connect with contemporary collecting by creating exhibitions about objects found on the beach, providing a good opportunity to discuss how long it takes for plastics to break down.

Our project is about connecting with contemporary and historic Perranporth using creative practices working closely Perranzabuloe Museum. The other main partner for the project is Perranporth Art and Wellbeing community group, (an established creative group who meet weekly), led by the fantastic Karen Tregay. So far, I have run five of the seven workshops which are all focussing upon using different parts of the collection to create new art work for a scrapbook which has been commissioned by PZ conservation in Penzance.

The workshops have been really wide-ranging (I’ve tried to tailor them to individuals interests in the group) including using reportage illustration techniques to document historic elements from the town using photographs around the museum, as well as contemporary scenes from around Perranporth. We have used the museum’s handling collections to create our own ‘museum still life’s’ to draw. We did a print making workshop and used lino prints to depict Perranporth’s history alongside the museum talking to us about an historic printmaker (Mrs Bisley), whose work is in their collection. We then got to handle Mrs Bisley’s actual print blocks which everyone absolutely loved!

We have visited the museum twice, and I’ve suggested exercises which might allow a creative person to access and interrogate the museum space in different ways. For the last workshop we did some poetry for example.

This project has been an absolute joy to be part of. The community group have been unbelievably welcoming and after getting to know me, have been really up for trying new ways of working. The museum have been incredibly supportive, offering to speak to the group or offering objects to support my ideas for workshops.

Felicity Tattersall, Illustrator

Twitter: @ftillustrator Facebook: felicitytattersall Instagram:@FTIllustrator

Improving the Resilience of Rural Museums

Cornwall Museums Partnership and South West Development are pleased to announce the launch of their Resilience programme.

With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cornwall Museums Partnership and South West Museum Development will develop and deliver a unique collaborative programme of leadership and skills development.

Combining their extensive experience of working in collaboration with smaller rural museums, CMP and SWMD have developed a wraparound programme of skills development. Peer groups will come together for the two-year programme to share successes and ideas, as well as challenges, whilst being supported by hands-on business mentoring.

Clare Pennington, Resilience Programme Manager, says, ‘The Resilience Programme aims to tackle five key areas of museum development to enable museums to embrace the opportunities presented by a challenging political and economic environment.’

‘The five areas are; strategic fundraising, finance, marketing and business planning. These have been identified by the sector itself as the main areas that are fundamental to a museum’s ability to continue to thrive and grow. The programme will also look at the challenges posed to museums around developing effective, proactive and outward-looking leadership.’

These topics will form the basis for  e-learning pilots that will be available nationally for museum staff and volunteers, as well as intensive workshops and a mentoring scheme that will work with selected museums in the South West.

The Resilience Programme will be investing nearly £400,000 over the next two years into developing and supporting a vital cultural shift in the way in which museums are able to respond to and take advantage of a fast-changing environment to ensure they are able to continue the amazing work that they do at the heart of our communities.

Find out more here.

Bright Sparks – applications now open!

Cornwall Museums Partnership and FEAST are challenging museums and artists to work together to generate original ideas for bringing more and different people into the museums of Cornwall to enjoy Cornwall’s unique heritage. For the third year, we are offering a joint small grants fund to enable the best ideas to be tested and delivered.

We are looking for genuine innovation and collaboration between the artist(s) and museum, and for ideas which would appeal to a broad range of the community. We are inviting proposals for creative projects which spark interest in what museums have to offer: we want more people interested in their heritage and more people doing or experiencing something creative.

This year we are introducing a Digital Strand, which will look for the innovative use of digital technology either in the creation or the dissemination of the project. Here, ‘digital’ has been interpreted broadly and can cover anything from the creation of digital art to the use of technology within the gallery. For advice on the Digital Strand, please contact oliver@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk

We are offering a number of small grants of up to £2,500. The project must involve some form of tangible activity or event with which the community can get involved.

Applications must be made jointly by the artist(s) and museum. Ideas must be generated collaboratively and plans for delivery shared by both. We imagine that some of the strongest ideas may come from an artist working with their local museum, but are not making this an absolute condition. You choose whether it is the artist(s) or museum who is the grant recipient on behalf of the project.

Our criteria:

  • Quality and the ability to excite

We are looking only for work of a high professional standard that is fresh and inspiring

 

  • An innovative approach to involving as wide a range of people of all ages and backgrounds as possible

Show us how you plan to include people who normally assume arts and heritage activities are not for them

 

  • Imaginative ways of rewarding and enhancing the experience of museum volunteers

We want projects which ignite the enthusiasm of the volunteers and give them new ways to get involved

 

  • Value for money

We will take into account other match funding raised, but this can be in kind and will vary according to the scale of the project and amount requested. 

We will also be looking at the difference the project could make to the museum’s offer – the value added

 

  • Evidence of genuine collaboration between museum and artist

We want jointly developed proposals that draw on the strengths of both (Artists should not be used simply to deliver workshops devised by the museum and museums should not be used simply as a venue by the artist)

 

  • Legacy

We are looking for projects with a longer-term impact and which build skills, confidence and innovation within the museum and its volunteers. With the Digital Strand, we are looking for projects that take into account the use of the equipment past the end of the project.

Additional factors

  • In selecting projects we will be looking at the geographical spread of activity. This is obviously outside of your control, but please understand that this is a factor for us.
  • We will also be looking for projects of different scales. Don’t be afraid to apply for a few hundred pounds to make something small but perfectly formed happen in the museum!

For grants over £1,000, we will pay in 3 stages: 50% upfront, 40% on receipt of an interim report and the final 10% on receipt of a project evaluation (templates provided by us).

For grants under £1,000, we will pay 90% up front and 10% on receipt of evaluation.

Equipment costs can be covered under the Digital Strand. This equipment will remain the property of the museum beyond the project.

Selection of successful projects will be made by a panel of FEAST and Cornwall Museum Partnership directors and a member of each organisation’ s board or advisory group.  The deadline for applications is 16th September and decisions will be announced shortly afterwards.

For more information contact celine@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk Tel: 01209500750 or feast@creativekernow.org.uk Tel: 01209312502.

FEAST logo

What can Museums Learn from the England Men’s Football Team?

I dislike a buzzword as much as the next person, and I keep hearing ‘resilience’ everywhere in the heritage and charitable sectors, applied to everything from finance to leadership, so what does it mean in simple practical terms?

Resilience actually makes sense. Why? Well, look at the World Cup, teams that are packed with star names have crumbled – Germany and Spain crashed out early on, and yet England, a team of young inexperienced players with no star names is in the semifinals.

This hasn’t happened by accident, Gareth Southgate has led the team to develop a mindset that is able to withstand tough challenges, can bend and flex and spring back when knocked down – a resilient team. So, whether it’s coming home or not in 2018, this team will continue to grow and build and achieve.

World Cup

Creating a resilient team is a crucial goal for any leader faced with uncertain times when the ground seems to be constantly shifting beneath your feet. Now more than ever heritage organisations need to grasp the idea of resilience as being central to their culture – and survival.

How you lead this change within your organisation will depend on your unique circumstances, but one thing is clear as the England team have shown, that the whole team needs to buy into the idea; from the Trustees to Directors, staff and volunteers.

Resilience is about not relying on one star player, you can apply this to museums – how many organisations rely entirely on one key income stream or funder, one person to get things done or one type of audience? In the end, that organisation will struggle to deliver its charitable objectives, letting down the most important people – its community and stakeholders.

So, how do you start? Having come from a business leadership role my feeling is that the first thing you do is to take a step out of your organisation’s day to day challenges and start to think about how your museum fits into the bigger picture. Think wisely and strategically with a focus on long-term, look beyond your own world for inspiration; be open minded – be flexible and open to opportunities, new ideas and doing what you do better; include people with different backgrounds, experiences and opinions to make sure that you draw on the best ideas; and think about the kind of leadership your organisation needs.

If organisations can start to think like this then the opportunities offered by, for example, Rural Proofing Resilience are there ready to help and support museums to develop into thriving and yes, resilient museums at the heart of strong communities.

Find out how you can get involved with the Rural Proofing Resilience programme here.

 

Clare Pennington, Rural Proofing Resilience Programme Manager –clare@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk