Throughout April 2009, Swindon discovers a whole new side to itself under Think:Swindon.
And to launch the month of 'thinking of others' politicians from both sides of the political divide came together to welcome the Anne Frank + You exhibition to Swindon Central Library on 2 April.
Created by the Anne Frank Trust, the exhibition uses the legacy of the diaries written by the teenager hiding with her family in Holland during World War II. They were betrayed and perished in Nazi concentration camps, but Anne's memory lives on as lessons from the past for the future.
South Swindon Labour MP Anne Snelgrove, who secured the exhibition for the town in early 2008, commended Swindon Council for working hard to give Swindon residents the chance to see and learn from it. "The exhibition brings together the terrible events of the past and the problems of society, here and abroad, today. The Anne Frank exhibition gives us the strength and resolve to ensure everybody in our community is valued and can contribute to the future."
Right, Anne Snelgrove and Rod Bluh, look at a image of Auschwitz Birkanau concentration camp
Rod Bluh, Conservative Leader of the Council, said his father was one of seven brothers and the only one to escape from the Nazi persecution of Jews in time to escape the Holocaust. He recounted how his 14 year mentally disabled uncle suffered medical experiments in concentration camp before being gassed, and how he had discovered that his grandmother was shot and buried in a mass grave in what is now Belarus. He said he spends much of his spare time tracing what happened to family members wiped away during the war.
"The Holocaust lives with you always, but the Anne Frank + You exhibition is not just about the past; it's about looking forward and resolving to look at what unites people, not what divides us. Anne Frank was telling her personal story through her diaries, but didn't realise she was telling the story of millions."
Right, Rod Bluh, signing the Anne Frank Declaration
During Think:Swindon month, sponsored by Nationwide Building Society and inSwindon, residents and visitors will be able to experience a whole month of exhibitions, shows, events, words, pictures and gatherings across the borough, all on the broad themes of diversity, inclusion and tolerance. Dr Mike Pringle, Director of Swindon Cultural Partnership, "the list of things happening is so exciting. Some forty local organisations are involved, and it just goes to show what Swindon has to offer."
In addition to the Anne Frank + You exhibition, other events include:
• England Observed – English Heritage's exhibition of beautiful photographs of England by German émigré John Gay;
• Movement 2000 – a stunning series of paintings depicting displaced people by local artist David Bent;
• St. George's Day parade and town centre events;
• Ffink Fforde – an open forum with top author Jasper Fforde to discuss ways in which literature can change the world;
• 24 Hours – a day to capture a unique photographic record of Swindon;
• Pictures of Africa – a charity evening of amazing South African films and music, with VIP guests;
• A Thoughtful Film Season – with a dozen films all over Swindon;
The Mayor of Swindon Steve Wakefield at Swindon Central Library
PLUS – people can watch movies and short films all over Swindon and on the Big Screen; visit other amazing exhibitions; listen to radio shows; hear fantastic music or watch wonderful dancers; go to the theatre; make a difference at a charity event; explore secret gardens; cycle around Coate Water; meet new friends at Out of the Can; sign up to 'climb Everest'; buy a handmade walking stick; hop on the Keeping Swindon Safe bus; or maybe even take on Heart presenters in the Mini Moto Grand Prix.
And, there are chances to win a fantastic train set, books, puzzles, a notebook just like Anne Frank's diary, Swindon Wildcats T-shirts, free tickets and memorabilia; or even become Mayor for a day!
See the full programme at: www.thinkswindon.org
Right, Matt Holland discusses the power of words with Anne Snelgrove MP viewing a facsimile of Anne Frank's diary