Swindon’s community-run Richard Jefferies Museum is celebrating after Arts Council England agreed to support a £100,000 programme of arts and heritage activities.
Arts@Jefferies, is an 18-month arts programme that connects audiences to the museum and the broader arts.
Arts Council England has agreed to donate £55,000 to get the project going.
Working with Poetry Swindon, the project will also help provide a permanent home to poetry development in Swindon, and help to extend this throughout the community.
Hilda Sheehan, who organises most of the museum’s events as well as being a poet and mainstay of the Swindon Poetry Festival, said: “This is such good news for us. We are a tiny museum and really want to reach as many people as possible. Having a grant from the Arts Council means we can bring in really good artists and internationally renowned poets and not have to charge the earth for people to enjoy them.”
Museum manager Mike Pringle said: “We have only been developing the museum for a relatively short while after taking it over from the Council. This helps us to go even further, developing local arts and heritage through our relationships with local services such as the Alzheimer's Society, the Downs Syndrome Society, Mind, local schools, community groups, libraries and galleries. We think that arts which respond to this sort of audience participation grow in new and unexpected ways, and bring our museum to life.”
The museum also has four Arts Awards Advisers, recognised by Arts Council, and as part of the new project will manage a programme of Arts Awards in local schools.
The Richard Jefferies Museum is situated on the edge of Coate Water Country Park. It was originally a farmhouse where Victorian author and naturalist Richard Jefferies was born and raised. The Museum is now a centre for local community engagement and the arts, and has three floors containing memorabilia, displays, children’s activities, archive material and the works of Richard Jefferies. The Museum is owned by Swindon Borough Council and run by volunteers from the Richard Jefferies Museum Trust.