New year, new resolve…

by Karen Malim

Who hasn’t made promises for the New Year, ones that we are convinced we’ll keep, NO MATTER WHAT, and usually give up on just a week or two in?  I know I have. For instance, I have lost count of the number of years I have resolved to do something about my ‘baby weight’ and have failed miserably at the first hurdle – which usually takes the form of leftover Christmas cake or my daughter’s famous Yorkshire puddings.  I wonder…will this be the year I finally succeed?  After all, it’s over 22 years since the last of those babies appeared on the scene and, to be perfectly honest, the excuse is sounding a bit lame – even to me!

Or that novel…the one that’s been running around in my head for a decade or two and I keep telling everyone is just about to be written…could this be the year that a first draft at least sees the light of day? Hmmm…sadly I have my doubts!

This year my resolutions include a new addition, one I really do intend to keep – and which is a darned sight easier than losing weight or writing novels!

A bit of background…

Following my appointment as the Fundraising and Development go-to person for Dorchester Arts, I have had the opportunity to see an eclectic mix of top-notch performers…and shamefully I have not taken full advantage of this.  I missed Marcus Brigstocke, Forest Forge’s Woman of Flowers and Craig Ogden.  I did, however, get to see the wonderful Swan Lake, the thought-provoking Fracked or Fiction, and, earlier in the year, Angel Exit Theatre’s brilliant Ballad of Martha Brown (twice, it was so good).  I also had a huge amount of fun at the ‘Would I Lie to You’ wine tasting I organised early in December, and was thrilled to see nearly 100 other people having a great time too.  We raised over £1,200; a really encouraging result for what was our first major fundraiser.

Back to those resolutions…

In 2015 I am going to take full advantage of our artistic director Mark’s imaginative and enticing programming, starting with the jam-packed-with-goodies spring season.  I’ll be getting tickets for the Piaf – The Songs on Valentines’ Day, the sophisticated and sultry singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy and the quirky and intelligent The Little Unsaid.  I also do not want to miss the adaptations of 3 Bronte classics, Forest Forge’s illuminating and playful Leaves on the Line and Gerard Logan’s Oscar Wilde double bill.

As much as anything in the programme next season, I am looking forward to welcoming you to our special fundraising and 30th birthday celebration event, The Pearl Gala.


Like so many arts organisations, we face challenges with our funding and in our current facilities only a limited percentage of our income can come from box office and earned income.

In order for us keep the magic alive and to deliver more great art to more people, we need your support.  The Pearl Gala promises to be a brilliant evening and one to remember – as well as being an opportunity for you to help us continue to give the gift of the arts to Dorchester.

I truly believe that where the arts thrive, people and places do too.  And I know that without the arts in my life – and on my doorstep – I would be very much the poorer.       I am looking forward to sticking to my new New Year’s resolution this year and seeing as many Dorchester Arts’ performances as possible.  Not a difficult one to keep when there’s so much excellence on offer.


Arts Council Announcement

Dorchester Arts

Arts Council England has announced its decision in regard to the National Portfolio funding for arts organisations across the UK. While Dorchester Arts was unsuccessful in its application to remain within the NPO framework, Artistic Director Mark Tattersall says,

“Although we are of course disappointed not to remain part of the Arts Council National Portfolio it’s business as usual for Dorchester Arts as we have made sure that we are not reliant on one stream of funding alone. We have the support of so many other people and organisations – our Board of Trustees, our members, West Dorset District Council, Dorchester Town Council, our sponsors, volunteers and perhaps above all the ever growing audiences and participants who show us week in and week out how much we are valued by our local community. Our Arts Council funding continues for the next nine months and we are already discussing other funding routes with them outside the NPO framework. In the meantime we will be talking to all those who support us to make sure that Dorchester continues to have the arts at its heart all the year round”.

We remain optimistic for the future of Dorchester Arts and we look forward to welcoming you to our next exciting events of theatre, music and comedy. Click here to see What’s On.

Fri 26 July | Spooky Men’s Chorale | SOLD OUT!

  • Dorchester Corn Exchange
  • Friday 26 July
  • 8.00pm
  • £22 / £20 members and concessions
  • 1 Hour 30 Mins
  • Seated


The Spooky Men wooed us with an outstanding concert at the end of summer 2018 and now they’re back! They are the gift that keeps on giving… as thunderous as a herd of wildebeest, as sly as a wagonload of Spike Milligans and as sonorous as a cloister of monks. They emerged blinking-eyed from the Blue Mountains of NSW fifteen years ago and armed with no more than their impressively cavernous vocal chords, a nice line in deadpan, improbable facial hair and an ill-matched set of hats, have been gleefully impressing audiences throughout Australia, NZ and the UK ever since.

Their 2019 tour includes material from a brand new album, and a winning spectrum of Georgian songs, pindrop-beautiful ballads, highly inappropriate covers, and immaculate man anthems.

You must see them. Really, you must.

‘Inspired – and a triumph of choreography! Catch them on the road – a fantastic night out is guaranteed!’ Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2

Sun 28 July | A Summer Sunday with Dillie Keane | SOLD OUT!

  • Whitcombe Manor
  • Sunday 28 July
  • 12 noon
  • £30
  • Seated


This year we have a real treat for our summer fundraiser at beautiful Whitcombe Manor! 

The outrageously funny, Olivier Award-nominated actress, singer and comedian Dillie Keane is making a special trip to Dorset for one afternoon only to play and sing her repertoire of original songs – from gorgeous songs of love to songs of downright filth. 

Not for the fainthearted!  But very very funny.

Join us for a unique experience in lovely surroundings – as ever, your ticket includes a complimentary glass of bubbly and delicious canapes, creating a perfect summer afternoon of pleasure.

 “Keane, whose piano-playing remains as sprightly and inventive as ever, prompts gales of laughter with merely the raising of a quizzical eyebrow.”  The Times

By the kind invitation of Minette and Alec Walters

Sponsored by The Gallery on the Square

Thur 8 August | The Pirates of Penzance |

  • Nothe Fort
  • Thursday 8 August
  • 7.00pm
  • £16 / £14 / £45 family ticket (4 people, max. 2 adults)
  • 1 Hour 30 Mins
  • Bring a chair

Join us at seaside for the jolliest maritime musical comedy of all time in the wonderful setting of Weymouth’s Nothe Fort.

A swashbuckling farce of brilliant humour and razor-sharp wit, the Pirates of Penzance is complete with brave(ish) pirates, a completely dotty Major-General, his beautiful unwed daughters and a bumbling bunch of hopeless but hilarious policemen.

With such famous songs as I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major-General, A Policemen’s Lot Is Not A Happy One, and Poor Wand’ring One to name but a few, this is a fantastic family friendly mix of comic characters, witty dialogue, and great tunes. Perfect entertainment for a summer’s evening…

The young singers bring rich tones and harmony to the work along with impressive acting skills…a musical event to remember
Dorset Echo
of The Mikado

Wed 18 September | Big Heads and Others | 3-She

  • Dorchester Corn Exchange
  • Friday 18 September
  • 8.00pm
  • £5
  • 1 hr
  • Seated

This comedy sketch show will take you on a journey from the topical and tropical to the meticulous and ridiculous.

Travel to Easter Island, face up to Killer Ladybugs, peek inside a woman’s handbag and trek alongside some not-so-religious pilgrims.

Written by 3-She, a trio of Dorset women writers who will make you laugh at the absurdity of the everyday.

“My only complaint? An hour wasn’t long enough. More please”. Dorset Eye

Fri 20 September | Beverley Craven | Strings Attached | with special guest Judie Tzuke

  • Dorchester Corn Exchange
  • Friday 20 September
  • 8.00pm
  • £27
  • 1 Hour 30 Mins
  • Seated

Beverley Craven makes a welcome return to the Dorchester Arts stage. With two of her favourite musicians and a string quartet ensemble this intimate ‘one-off’ show will feature songs and stories spanning her (almost) 30-year career as a singer/songwriter and performer. Featuring special guest star, Judie Tzuke.

Fresh from the highly acclaimed, sell-out Woman To Woman UK tour with fellow artistes Julia Fordham and Judie Tzuke, This intimate ‘one-off’ show will feature songs and stories spanning her (almost) 30-year career as a singer/songwriter and performer.

The Brit Award winner first shot to fame in 1991 when her debut album, featuring three of her top 20 hits, reached number 3 in the UK charts. A humorous and highly entertaining evening is in store as Beverley bares her soul and music onstage with classic songs such as Holding On, Loves Scenes, Memories and Promise Me. Her witty narrative, unforgettable melodies and poignant sentiments will leave you with a warm glow of nostalgia, or maybe even the odd tear…

Wed 2 October | Alan Johnson | In My Life

  • Dorchester Corn Exchange
  • Wednesday 2 October
  • 8.00pm
  • £19 / £17 members and concessions
  • 1 Hour 30 Mins
  • Seated

Alan Johnson is one of the most popular politicians of recent times and now a best-selling author, his memoirs selling half a million copies to date. Inspired by his latest book, In My Life, in this highly entertaining show Alan tells his personal story with the help of some of the music that has formed the soundtrack of his life, from growing up as an orphan in a West London slum in the 50s to becoming a postman before rising through the Labour Party ranks to hold several cabinet posts, including Home Secretary.

Thurs 3 October | Magellan – Circumnavigation | We Sail to Prove the Earth is Round

  • Dorchester Corn Exchange
  • Thursday 3 October
  • 8.00pm
  • £12 / £10 members and concessions
  • 1 Hour 30 Mins
  • Seated

A folk musical telling the story of love divided by the greatest voyage of exploration the world has seen. Bob Whitley (guitar and mandola) and Lee Cuff (cello) perform in 16th century costumes which will take you back 500 years to a time when at a time when the sailors’ greatest fear was falling over the edge of the earth.

Magellan’s Circumnavigation was the greatest voyage of human exploration, at a time when sailors believed in gigantic sea monsters, demons, boiling seas at the Equator and magnetic rocks that drew the nails out of the timbers. The sailors also believed that the world was flat and feared they would disappear over the edge.

This musical story is set against the background of the voyage and follows an ordinary sailor and his wife mirroring the parallel story of Ferdinand and Beatriz Magellan.

Bob Whitley is a Poole-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer who has been delighting audiences across the Dorset folk scene for over 20 years. Playing a wide range of instruments, including guitar, bouzouki and mandola, he writes songs inspired by history, politics and the events of his own life. Throughout his two decades at the heart of the local folk scene, Bob has played at virtually every folk club and festival in Dorset and many in the surrounding area, and has also supported some of the genre’s most beloved artists, including Pete Moreton, Faustus, Nancy Kerr and James Fagin, John Tams and Barry Coope, Jez Lowe and Roy Bailey.

Lee Cuff is a Dorset based cellist and vocalist. He began his musical career as a classically trained string player and chamber singer, later studying string tuition. Stepping beyond the confines of the classical genre, Lee was drawn into the rich and diverse world of folk music. As the lead vocalist of folk trio Kadia he shares fresh and uplifting interpretations of traditional songs and tunes alongside original music.

As a session musician, Lee has recently worked with folk artists such as Ange Hardy, and he is part of a long term collaboration with duo Ninebarrow.

Fri 4 October | Patience | Opera Anywhere

  • Dorchester Corn Exchange
  • Friday 4 October
  • 7.30pm
  • £20 / £18 members and concessions
  • 1 Hour 30 Mins
  • Seated

An approachable and inspired production featuring a cast of fine young singers.

Patience, a light opera, by Gilbert and Sullivan is the duo’s extremely witty, infrequently performed little masterpiece about the Aesthetic Movement of the 1880s, with willowy poets, sighing maidens, hearty milkmaids and burly officers galore. Every tune is memorable, every word worth hearing, and the humour is as fresh as it was at the first performance.