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An ambitious community choral and creative writing project is set to celebrate one of Norfolk’s best loved museums.

Norfolk Museums Service is delighted to announce that it has been awarded £67, 923 by Arts Council England to deliver “Together To The Workhouse Door”, an exciting and ambitious creative writing and music community engagement project which will celebrate the transformation of Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse through the Heritage Lottery Fund HLF-supported Voices from the Workhouse project which has delivered an inspired redevelopment of the museum’s workhouse galleries.

Working in partnership with Sinfonia Viva, Orchestras Live, Writers’ Centre Norwich, Norfolk Music Hub, Breckland & Broadland District Councils and Norfolk Arts Service, Norfolk Museums Service will commission a major new oratorio which will be created by composer, James Redwood and poet, Lucy Sheerman. The new site-specific work will draw inspiration from the nationally important archives and collections at Gressenhall, one of the most important and best preserved workhouses in the UK.

Working with local schools, community groups and volunteers, ‘Together To the Workhouse Door’ will animate, in words and music, some of the many rich stories and voices of people at the Workhouse, raising awareness of the social and cultural heritage of the site as well as inspiring local communities to develop their own creative responses to both the site and its unique collections.

The new oratorio and collaborative work will be premiered at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse on Wednesday 7th June 2017.

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Norfolk has a wonderful museum service and Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is one of its highlights. We are really excited to be supporting this project which sees a range of artists working with the local community to give new meaning and significance to the archives and collections. It is a really great example of arts, culture and heritage working together”

Cllr. Margaret Dewsbury, Chair, Norfolk County Council Communities Committee and Norfolk Arts Forum Executive Committee, said: “Gressenhall has a special place in people’s hearts. To have this love and support translated into music is a truly inspirational idea. It will provide a unique interpretation of the people who inhabited Gressenhall workhouse and their lives and provide a wonderful memorial to them.”

Marianne Barraclough, Education Manager at Sinfonia Viva said “We are absolutely delighted to be working on this wonderful project as part of such an inspiring partnership. We can’t wait to meet the participants and to start bringing some of the rich stories from Gressenhall workhouse to life through words and music.”

Stuart Bruce, Partnership Manager at Orchestras Live, said: “We are thrilled that this unique project is going ahead. It will enable many people in Norfolk to participate in and experience a brand new site-specific event with one of the country’s leading chamber orchestras. I’m really looking forward to this ambitious collaboration!”

Jonathan Morley, Programme Director, Writers’ Centre Norwich said “The new galleries at Gressenhall are deeply moving spaces for reflection, in part because of their focus on storytelling – across artistic genres. We at the Writers’ Centre are thrilled to be working with curators, artists and communities on this wonderful project.”

Jan Pitman, Learning Manager at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Norfolk Museums Service said: “We’re utterly delighted with the news. The stories of the people who lived and worked at Gressenhall are fascinating, providing a unique insight into this period of our shared history. We’re excited by the prospect to work with such creative and talented partners to explore these voices with local schools and communities.”

Alison Corfield, Head of Norfolk Music Service said “This is a truly fantastic opportunity for Norfolk! It’s such an innovative project for our pupils which will lead to a sustainable community music-making model to be proud of. The Norfolk Music Hub are thrilled to be involved in this one of a kind project and excited to see it unfold over the coming months. Phenomenal news!”

Read the article in Norwich Evening News, 14 November 2016: Ambitious community project will celebrate loved museum

For further information, please contact:

Mary Muir
Arts Officer
Norfolk County Council
Tel: 01603 223013

Jan Pitman
Learning Manager, Western Area Museums
Norfolk Museums Service
Tel: 01362 869260

Supported by:
Norfolk Music Hub logoBroadland District Council logo

Norfolk County Council logo