Head of Culture
Amanda has stopped her weekly postings, but you can still read her stories here ...
Amanda O'Reilly, Head of Culture for Adur & Worthing Councils, has worked in arts management for over 20 years, having played pivotal roles in venues as varied as Watersmead in Rickmansworth; West Yorkshire Playhouse; Yorkshire Dance Agency; Queen's Park Arts Centre in Aylesbury and Spring Arts Centre in Havant before moving to Worthing Theatres in 2012.
You can read Amanda's 2018 blog posts on this page below - or click here to read her archive of 2017 blog posts ...
The culture team have some exceptionally talented individuals so I thought this week I would hand over to one of our brilliant officers - James Tully is our film officer who programmes and markets the films at the Connaught, successfully managing one of our biggest strands of income. Over to you James ...
Hi Everybody, James at the Connaught Cinema here.
I am the Film Officer and program all the films that we show. January and February is a great time for cinema as it is Awards season. Kicking off with the Golden Globes at the beginning of January and finishing with the Oscars at the beginning of March.
Last year this season saw some great movies such as La La Land, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight.
This year we have had some great movies already and some more great ones to come. I was a big fan of Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Shape of Water and The Post. Although I thought Gary Oldman was brilliant in it, Darkest Hour didn't do much for me and I felt like Downsizing was a bit of a disappointment. I really enjoyed I, Tonya and Lady Bird - both of which we'll be playing shortly. I am lucky enough to see most of the films early at press and Industry screenings and I love seeing which films I think the Worthing audience will respond to.
I love picking movies and trying to convince people to see them. This really worked when I saw the Buddhism documentary Walk With Me and booked it to play at the Connaught. We had to add more screenings to keep up with demand. But when I played Brawl in Cell Block 99 ... unfortunately no-one was interested (I still love this movie and recommend catching it on DVD).
When I saw Three Billboards at the London Film Festival I knew immediately we had to play it and luckily that has paid off with audiences loving it as much as I did.
Another big story for us this year has been the huge success of The Greatest Showman. It is very rare in the film industry for a film to open at number 2 in the box office, only to hit the number one spot 5 weeks later. This is a real audience word of mouth hit. The critics sharpened their knives for it, but audiences loved the song and dance spectacular and it had a real feel-good factor for everyone. We look forward to playing the sing-along version soon and hearing the professional voices of Hugh Jackman and Zac Effron drowned out by the caterwauling of Worthing audiences!
We usually eschew the big box office blockbusters in favour of more interesting cinema, and in keeping with this we have a fantastic season of documentaries coming up over March and April including films about Vivienne Westwood, Hedy Lamarr, John Curry, Michael Caine and more.
So please come on down and see us at the Connaught, for an amazing film line-up!
Photo: Connaught Cinema
This week I'm handing over the culture blog to Gerry Connolly, senior curator at Worthing Museum, who will talk about the power of volunteers.
They are integral to the running of the museum. And without them, our internationally-famous costume collection would not be half as well known.
But while our volunteers are integral to Worthing Museum, it is not just a one way street.
Ask any one of our many volunteers why they do what they do and you will probably get a different answer from each of them. I promise it will not always be for the tea and biscuits (although that is very important).
One of our volunteers Jo sums up her experience:
“In addition to all the hands-on experience I have gained from supporting the curatorial team at Worthing, I feel that I have really developed my confidence. I have been encouraged to explore and to make a contribution that feels valued, and that is why I volunteer.”
Our valued museum volunteers help our team in delivering many aspects of the museum service, such as supporting the front of house visitor services, conservation, archiving, exhibitions, education and workshops, and collections management.
It's the added value that volunteers bring that is so important to the museum service.
They play an important part in helping to improve access to our fascinating collections and enhancing the visitor experience.
There are a number of volunteer roles available covering a wide range of activities.
Volunteers are an integral part of the museum team and are involved in a number of exciting projects which we could not do without their commitment and enthusiasm.
Front of house volunteers welcome visitors and engage with them about the collections, exhibitions and services we offer. Working behind the scenes can involve researching, archiving and photographing the collections to preserve and protect their heritage and legacy for future generations.
The museum has a long tradition of working with volunteers. In fact, it was volunteers in the 1950s that initiated the development of the costume collection into the important collection it is today. Since then, volunteers have always been as much an integral part of the museum as the objects we care for.
There is also no such thing as a 'typical' volunteer at Worthing; we welcome anyone of any age or background who can offer a little of their time and enthusiasm to volunteer here.
If you want to get involved email: firstname.lastname@example.org, call: 01903 221 448 or drop into the museum and talk to a member of staff.
Photo: Two of WMA's Volunteers - Beth (front of house) and Jane (archivist)
Photo: NADFAS Heritage Volunteers (National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies)
Photo: Jane working with the costume collection
This week the culture blog comes from Gerry Connolly our marvellous Museum Manager who has an intense love for Worthing's nationally significant Costume Collection.
Twelve years on and the costume collection at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery still manages to surprise and delight me with its treasure trove of amazing objects.
Barely a day goes by without a volunteer, researcher or I opening a box in the stores and finding something truly breathtaking for its design, workmanship, beauty.
We have one of the most significant and important costume collections in the country here in the museum.
The collection holds objects dating back to the late 1500s and the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st. They give us a very tangible connection to our past cultural influences from the Tudors through the Georgian and Victorian period to the modern Elizabethan age.
The collections houses over 30,000 objects and has a large 18th and 19th century collection of fashion dress worn by western European men, women and children.
The 20th century collection focused on the homemade and shop bought and illustrated what the vast majority of the population would have worn and how couture fashion influenced their dress style.
The collection is in constant use, being viewed by visitors to our ever changing fashion galleries, temporary exhibitions and the costume trail. We also host researchers from local colleges, national and international universities, fashion houses and TV and film.
Object from the collection have gone on exhibition loan to many other institutions, Kensington Palace, V&A, London Design Museum, Royal Pavilion Brighton, National Trust to name just a few. The costume collection at Worthing museum has served us well representing the town nationally and internationally.
“How did we not know about this collection, we have landed on the mothership” an overheard comment between two researcher from the Costume Society of America, describing the wealth of objects from the 18th century in the collection.
Through exhibitions, the costume trail, and talks we work constantly to make sure that the collection is known about and can be used to inspire, educate and be enjoyed.
I'd be delighted to hear what you think about it too.
See also: Worthing Museum & Art Gallery website
Photo: Worthing Museum and Art Gallery
Photo: Part of the costume collection at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery
Photo: 1840s Walking dress in the costume collection at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery
Whilst the most of the Technicians were looking after Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs at the Pavilion Theatre during December, our technical manager Martin Wright and the rest of the team were focused on two special projects.
Dusting off our 35mm projector ...
In the Connaught and Studio we have been going back to our film roots with a special run of Dunkirk, the latest film from director Christopher Nolan. It was quite rare as the film was presented in traditional 35mm film.
Christopher Nolan, like many of his directorial contemporaries, is a proponent of film over digital in regards to how a movie is presented.
The pros of digital film making have been well-documented over the years, but a number of people working in the industry prefer to shoot their projects on film stock, fighting to keep the format alive because they feel its quality is superior.
Given that Nolan shot Dunkirk on film, he obviously intended it to be seen in that format. For movie buffs that enjoy the look of film stock as much as Nolan, it was a treat to see the director's vision of the second World War up on the big screen in this manner.
Martin has gone to great lengths to preserve our 35mm projector, and maintain and train projectionists who know how to work with film - so we're delighted to have had the chance to put all this work to good use and play our part in keeping this century-old format alive.
Did you enjoy the old school experience? Let us know by emailing email@example.com
Photo: Our Philips FP20 35mm film projector running Dunkirk
Playing a capital role before a London run
We supported the UK premiere of 'White Fang', written by Jethro Compton and inspired by Jack London's novel 'The Call of the Wild'. White Fang previewed at the Connaught Theatre Thursday 7th to Friday 8th December 2018 before transferring to London for a six week run.
Any new production has teething trouble (see what we did there?), challenges have to be worked through and problems solved. Although the show debuted in America in late summer 2017, this was an almost entirely new cast (all bar White Fang) and a brand new set that had not been fully built until it was with us on stage at the Connaught.
Modifications had to be made, lighting had to be re-designed and rehearsals for the new cast were crucial.
The process of opening a new show is often filled with hard work and late nights but when the final results open to an audience for the first time it is one of the most rewarding experiences for the team and it's those moments that our technicians love so much.
There's nothing better than supporting a talented company putting on a great production. We hope to bring more previews to The Connaught Theatre by offering rehearsal time and technical expertise in advance of a London run. Watch this space...
Photo: Building the set and rigging the lights
Photo: Technical rehearsal and lighting plot on the Connaught stage
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