Our ‘mission statement’ says that we aim to bring the best of the arts to Dorset’s county town, give our community creative opportunities and nurture local talent. Mission statements can be a bit dry and vague, so here are some examples of what we actually do to show how we put it into action…
Bringing the best of the arts to the county town
We programme about 200 events a year and aim to appeal to all sorts of people. The artists we bring here range from theatre and dance companies to bands old and new, as well as comedians, children’s entertainers, jugglers and even the odd mind-reader. The shows take place mainly in our home venue, Dorchester Corn Exchange, but also outdoors in Maumbury Rings or in one of the many beautiful churches, barns or event venues in and around Dorchester.
We try to offer the widest possible variety, but have to work within the limitations of our budgets and audience capacity. We’re always happy to have suggestions of more great things to bring to town, so if you have seen a great play, concert, dance show or the like, don ‘t hesitate to get in touch and tell us about it. We can’t promise we’ll be able to book them, but we’ll look into it…
Increasingly, we are working together with other local arts organisations, some amateur, some professional, to share resources and make sure that the arts in dorchester really thrive. For example, New Hardy Players and Dorchester Community Plays Association have become more and more closely allied to us and we are seeing the benefits on both sides.
What this really means is being able to join in, rather than just watch. We host all sorts of activities that give people the chance to act, sing or play. We host weekly sessions and annual performances by Dorchester Youth Theatre, who go from strength to strength. Pop Club meet her every Saturday, giving youngsters a chance to learn to play in a band and make their first appearances on stage. We also support Dorchestra, the local community orchestra, where anyone who wants to pick up an instrument (perhaps after a long lay-off or as a beginner) can join in a joyful celebration of music. Connect, our open-access, free drama class now runs twice a week and their creativity, imagination and ability to bring out the best performances in each other seem to know no bounds.
As well as there regular groups we organise workshops and participation sessions linked to our performance programme, from puppet-making to storytelling via comic making and dance.
Nurturing local talent
Dorchester is bursting with talented people and we think Dorchester Arts should be an outlet for some of that talent to grow. Recent examples of our support include:
Kinetics: local actress and playwright Sue Wylie came to us with her astonishing play Kinetics in 2015 and ever since we have been trying to bring it to the widest possible audience. You can find out more about the play, the film and our future plans at www.dt2productions.co.uk
A Pure Woman: local writer Christopher Nicholson’s novel Winter has been adapted for the stage by Simon Reade and we just had to help his production company, Poonamallee, take it on tour – after all, some of the key events in the play take place in our very own venue, Dorchester Corn Exchange. You can watch a trailer for the play at https://vimeo.com/270063966 or find out more about the whole project and the autumn tour at www.apurewoman.co.uk
Apollo – One Giant Leap: watch this space (pardon the pun…) – a new musical project by a local composer is set for lift-off in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing next year…
We also offer opportunities for young performers to play in support of our professional artists whenever we can. Sadly these opportunities are few and far between but we are working on it…