THE people, places and stories portrayed in Wimborne Community Theatre's (WCT) productions over 20 years are to be recorded and made available online thanks to a grant of £10,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The Archiving Wimborne Community Theatre project will enable local volunteers working with Dorset History Centre to create an accessible online interactive archive capturing voices, photographs and visual images from WCT's site-specific community theatre productions in Dorset between 1991 and 2011. The website will be promoted to schools, relevant cultural organisations and individuals, locally and nationally.
Students from local schools will work with a digital artist to bring to life extracts from some of the stories told in past productions: for example, the story of Viola Bankes (born Kingston Lacy in 1900) and her nursery maid, Alice Maud Baker, and the journey they took one day in 1905 when King Edward VII visited the Bankes family at Kingston Lacy; or the story of the Iron Age Veneti tribe from Armorica (present day Brittany) meeting the indigenous Celts, the Durotriges, in the landscape around Kingston Lacy in about 45 AD.
As part of the project, local people will be invited to attend a public talk by Dorset History Centre, at Priest's House Museum, Wimborne, to find out more about the archiving of local history, and in particular the development of WCT's new project.
Commenting on the award, Gill Horitz, on behalf of WCT said: "We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The grant will enable us, with the help of Dorset History Centre, to ensure the intangible heritage of this community theatre group will be preserved for future generations. An online community archive will be available, representing WCT's 18 theatre projects developed since 1991. Over 1,000 people have been involved, performing to audiences of several thousand people."
Sam Johnston, County Archivist, said: "We are delighted to be able to collaborate with WCT following its successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The importance of preserving community archival heritage and making it as widely accessible as possible has never been greater."
Richard Bellamy the acting head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: "Archives are the raw materials of history; they show us how the lives of today's individuals and communities have been shaped by the events of the past and help us make sense of the present. We were therefore delighted to be able to support Wimborne Community Theatre's work to preserve and make more widely available the records of and materials from their past productions, which, in their turn, have helped the people of Dorset to learn and understand more about the county's rich history."