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Anyone can apply for Heritage Lottery Funding

Since it was set up in 1994, under the National Lottery Act, it has awarded over £7.1billion to more than 40,000 projects, large and small, helping people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect their heritage.

HLF supports all kinds of projects, as long as they make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities. These vary from restoring natural landscapes to rescuing neglected buildings, from recording diverse community histories to providing life-changing skills training.

In the moments of recalling forgotten times as Betty Dawes’ archive was unpicked, the realisation dawned that we were looking at the history of Wick Theatre. An exhibition to showcase this would need resources we didn’t have. But the HLF did.

Online application asked a number of thought provoking questions.

First we had to summarise our project.

“Wick Theatre Company, based in Southwick, West Sussex, is celebrating 70 years of treading the boards.
Formed in 1948 the company has produced over 260 full-length productions, all presented in the 140-seat theatre, within Southwick Community Centre.

To mark this anniversary Wick Theatre Company is planning a public exhibition in the summer of 2018.
The exhibition will tell of the Company’s journey to date, from the gathering of a small group of enthusiastic teenagers, their mentoring by a local benefactor, development through involvement with local drama competitions to their presenting seventy seasons of full-length, award winning drama.

Wick Theatre Company’s home, The Barn Theatre, opened 1951, after a year of extensive conversion of a derelict farm building. The site owner, the local council, encouraged utilisation of volunteers from the community to establish ‘local’ ownership. Wick’s members were among them.

When the Community Centre proposed an extensive upgrade in 1998, Wick Theatre members were involved in redesign and volunteering time alongside supporting the work financially.

Adjacent to the Community Centre is Manor Cottage, home of Southwick [Sussex] Society – itself a recipient of Lottery funding. The Society holds a series of exhibitions each year and have allocated to space in their 2018 exhibition calendar for Wick Theatre Company’s use.

A previous exhibition, in 2014, devised and curated by a Wick Theatre Company member revealed limitations to the visitor experience. The intention with the 70th exhibition is to address these shortcomings with audio guides and personal sound systems.

Similarly, by digitising Wick Theatre Company’s journey, through the capture of original member’s anecdotes and the scanning of theatrical production material, we will enable a wider audience to engage with the exhibition through the medium of the world wide web.”

Later we had to answer: ‘What is the heritage your project focuses on?’

“A group of teenagers living local to Southwick formed WICK THEATRE COMPANY in 1948.

In 2016 one of the last founder members died. An avid collector of papers relating to the Company, the collection provided a valuable insight to its formative years. This material has been added to an extensive collection of over 2,000 documents and photographs.

The Company’s tangible heritage lives amongst those papers.

The early documents reveal the commitment to performing with evidence of linkages with local trades for printing and publicity. The exhibition will display these artefacts. From later years the archive material depicts the complete life-cycle of a production.

Alongside the theatrical material the exhibition will showcase development of The Barn Theatre through news articles, photographs and architectural plans.

The exhibition will also provide for engagement with the company’s intangible heritage.
One remaining founder member and others with memories of the early years are to record their recollections to enable visitors to ‘meet’ them through audio-visual presentations.

The exhibition will have to be selective and therefore the heritage shared will focus on significant events from each of the seven decades.

1950’s – birth of the company and the launch of The Barn Theatre
• Penney family influence, membership records, local news reports.

1960’s – development of youth membership as a way of long term sustainability
• Youth Group activities, One-Act Drama Festivals.

1970’s – engagement with local Full-length Drama Festivals, first Shakespeare production
• Supporting local Arts Council festival

1980’s – expansion into productions that tapped local youth talent
• Examining importance of a thriving youth section

1990’s – redevelopment of The Barn
• Company’s involvement with project

2000’s – staging a world premier
• How the event was presented and promoted

2010’s – reaching 250 productions
• Landmark in Company’s journey”