Crowdfunder launched for Mayflower 400 dance project

May 07, 2019

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to create a new piece of dance in response to the pioneering story of the Mayflower.

Award-winning dance group Made By Katie Green specialises in creating danced responses to museums and heritage sites. It is work that is unexpected, memorable, moving, enjoyable and encourages people to reconsider their place in the world today by putting themselves in the footsteps of people who have come before.

They have shared their original version of The Imagination Museum with 29 museums across the UK since 2013, reaching more than 12,000 people.

Now, the group has launched a crowdfunding appeal for its latest project - a new danced response to the Mayflower’s historic journey from the UK to America in 1620.

The Imagination Musuem: Mayflower 400 will find out more about the passengers who set sail in the hope of establishing a new colony and beginning a new life. In particular, it will explore the perspectives of people on board whose stories are seldom told, such as the women and children.

The Imagination Museum

On-site in Southampton; photographer Owen Benson; dancers Sarah Blanc, Megan Griffiths, Lucy Starkey

Where it will take place

The Mayflower story is one of determination, of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Made By Katie Green is looking for help to bring this story to 5,000 people across three 'hubs' in Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and Plymouth over the next two years.

It will start in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, known as the Pilgrim Roots area as it was the birthplace of many of the key figures on board the ship.


Anna Scott, of the Pilgrim Roots partnership, said: "Having the Imagination Museum coming to the Pilgrim Roots region is really exciting for us. I’m really hoping it will be able to engage with young people, people who are perhaps already interested in dance, but also other people who might not have heard of a project like this before.

“They’ll learn about the Pilgrim story and they’ll get a chance hopefully to be part of the project as well.”

It will then move to Hampshire (particularly Aldershot, Fareham and Christchurch), where the two groups of passengers who would ultimately make the crossing to America were together in Southampton aboard the Speedwell and the Mayflower.

The Imagination Museum

Test performances in St Swithun's Church, Retford; photographer Steve Hatton; dancers Sarah Blanc, Megan Griffiths, Lucy Starkey

The project will end in Plymouth where, after they had to abandon one of their ships, the two groups of passengers were all finally forced together onto the Mayflower, facing an arduous 66-day journey to America in cramped conditions.

What to expect

The project will consist of a series of performances, workshops, discussion events and more intensive periods of creation and rehearsal with community groups, taking place at a range of over 20 venues such as schools, shopping centres, historic sites, museums, galleries and community centres from 2019-20. The activities will be shared via the What’s On page of the new Imagination Museum website.

Made By Katie Green has been successful in receiving a grant through the Arts Council’s Strategic Touring programme. However this grant is conditional on raising an additional £70,000 of funding from other sources - a really challenging task - including £4,000 through Crowdfunding.


How your donation will help

Any contribution you can make to help us reach the £4,000 Crowdfunding total – that’s less than £1 for every one of those 5,000 people it is hoped the project will engage with - will unlock more than £90,000 of support, and will therefore have a massive impact on the project.

A spokesman for the project said: “We will use your contribution specifically to help us to cover the costs of putting together final celebration performances in each of our Hubs; the point at which we will essentially hand over the project to each local community.

“We will do this in different ways in the different areas where we’ll be working, collaborating with local people to create and rehearse their own danced responses to the themes brought up by the Mayflower story such as determination, resilience, travelling, memories, but also integrating their voices as part of the sound score, speaking and singing, encouraging them to help us write the content for these celebration performances, and filming and photographing with a view to creating a record of the project that could potentially be exhibited at our partner heritage sites in the future.”

The Imagination Museum

A very wet site-visit to the Barbican area of Plymouth with Dance Engagement Practitioners Kane John Mills and Kaitlyn Howlett!; photographer Roswitha Chesher

All of this will be done in collaboration with the project's wonderful team of local artists, who will also be mentored to carry on their own work with dance and heritage beyond the end of the project in each area.

June Gamble, of Plymouth Dance, said: ”We wanted to develop a team of freelance dance practitioners who could train to work around dance and heritage and who could then in the long term support the development and the work of The Box.

“Kane has been involved with youth dance in Plymouth all through his childhood, trained at Northern School of Contemporary Dance and then returned to Plymouth to work as a freelance dance practitioner. Kaitlyn came to us as a student at the University of Plymouth and graduated just over 18 months ago, then becoming an intern for Plymouth Dance and Exim Dance, continuing to develop her practice."

The Imagination Musuem

Test performances in St Swithun's Church, Retford; photographer Steve Hatton; dancers Sarah Blanc, Megan Griffiths, Lucy Starkey

Why the work is important

The group has found from the work previously in museums and heritage sites that dance and heritage brings them into contact with audiences who have never seen dance before, never visited their local museum or heritage site before and a proportion (information we’ve collected in the past suggests it’s about 13% for us), for whom the performance is their first cultural experience.

The main aim for the Imagination Museum: Mayflower 400 project is to continue engaging new audiences for dance and heritage, bringing high quality dance performance to people of all ages and experiences, including people who haven’t seen anything like this before. 

Laura Bullivant, of the Red House Museum and Gardens in Hampshire, said: ”I think it will be an opportunity to engage people who haven’t come to the museum before, haven’t participated in any kind of dance as an art form before and to bring that together in the museums space not just for the participants but also for our visitors and our volunteers to engage with that, I think that’s going to be really exciting.”



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