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Stevenage Arts Guild has received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £60,000 for its latest project, “Stories from The Gordon Craig”, which will explore the heritage of Stevenage’s Gordon Craig Theatre

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the Arts Guild are working in partnership with Stevenage Museum and The Gordon Craig to reveal fascinating and inspiring stories from the theatre’s 43-year history.

A team of local volunteers will be trained to work alongside staff at the museum in cataloguing and digitising the theatre’s extensive but unexplored archive of posters, brochures, programmes, press-cuttings and photographs gathered since the arts centre’s opening in November 1975. The project aims to produce a full timeline of events at the theatre which will be freely searchable online later in 2019. HLF funds will be used to properly store the collection within the Gordon Craig complex for future reference by the public.

Work with the archive forms the backbone of this year-long project designed to celebrate the role the theatre has played in the cultural life of the town and beyond. Later in the year, there’ll be an open call to audiences and amateur and professional performers alike to contribute memories of their time at the Gordon Craig, culminating in a new free exhibition focussing on the theatre’s social history at Stevenage Museum opening in the Autumn.

Lottery funds will also support a programme of reminiscence activities for those in the area living with dementia, encouraging the sharing of happy memories of performance.

Commenting on the award, Hilary Spiers, chair of Stevenage Arts Guild said: “we’re delighted to have received this support to enable us to celebrate 44 glorious years of The Gordon Craig Theatre and really tell its story so far! It will be great to work with the Stevenage Museum on another project and we look forward to a very productive and inspirational year.”

Councillor Richard Henry, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Leisure at Stevenage Borough Council remarked: “This project forms an important part of our 10-year Cultural Strategy as we embark on enhancing arts and heritage in Stevenage and, in particular, The Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage Festival and Stevenage Museum. It also provides opportunities for the community to explore and express personal memories about the Theatre’s pivotal role in our New Town heritage while also developing personal skills.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF, East of England said: “We are delighted to support Stevenage Arts Guild in exploring the archives of The Gordon Craig Theatre and encouraging people to share their own memories. Thanks to National Lottery players this exciting project will play a role in preserving an important part of Stevenage’s heritage.”

Stevenage Museum are keen to hear from those of all ages interested in volunteering on the project – working with the archive, cataloguing, digitising, carrying out interviews and research and helping curate exhibitions. No experience is necessary, and training will be provided.

Email, or phone the museum on 01438 218881.

There is more information at Stories from The Gordon Craig Theatre on Facebook