Our heritage Exhibition was a stunning success. The village hall was very busy on
Saturday, on Sunday it was standing-room-only! The place was packed!
You will see from the pictures that we served refreshments in a small café area just
near to the exit. Our idea was to talk with people as they left and get both their
impressions of the event and to try to recruit them; we wanted people to volunteer
their own family archives or to offer to speak to us about their own knowledge and
history in the area. Secondly we wanted researchers, people who had the interest
and time on their hands to help us with our further research. The feedback questionnaires
captured a lot on information and the glorious smell of freshly brewed espresso coffee
pervaded the exhibition space. The home-made biscuits went down well too.
The vast majority of visitors were locals though we had some from afar afield as
Penrith, Kendal, and even Surrey(though they didn’t travel especially) The coverage
on Radio Cumbria News over 3 days and features on individual programmes, Like Val
Armstrong’s Saturday and Sunday morning shows, clearly helped.
Modesty prohibits us from laying any claim to assuring the quality of the exhibits
but the impact on visitors was overwhelming. The feedback forms were full of praise
for both the variety and the quality within the exhibition. Several people having
come along on the first day came back on the second because there was so much to
see. This really was a joint effort with a wide range of people involved in preparing
outstanding quality materials; and it showed.
Most importantly we wanted to raise awareness of the project and to encourage local
people to come forward with their own stories to tell; we talked to almost all of
the visitors in the post-exhibition interview at the café and gained a significant
number of “leads” for new stories and oral history pieces. Whilst the exhibition
itself was praised, one visitor described the major benefit as being the “crack”
that went on endlessly; groups of people just coming together for a chat and a good
old gossip. It was described as, “more like a street party than an exhibition!”
Progressively we will be putting as much as possible of the material we had collected
onto this website so that even if you were unable to see our exhibition live, you
can still have access to its contents.
All in all the term “stunning success” we used to describe the event was not hyperbole.
The most interesting idea to develop over the course of our preparation and at the
event itself is the extent to which we have a pattern here that other communities
might like to replicate. There’s nothing magical or specific about or project; however
we have done a lot of the thinking and planning. If any other individuals or groups
would like to talk with us about this prospect please go to the contact us button
on the website.
In moving forward we will use the interview responses to identify priority activities
and create a 5 year development plan; we will use this to create a Heritage Lottery
Fund bid to enable us to make more rapid progress. For example our first priority
is oral history. That requires training and more equipment.