Heritage exhibition: research, design and curation*

Title: Entertaining Swindon: Performing Arts in Swindon 1955–1985.
Client: Swindon Museum & Art Gallery (SMAG) – Arts Council funding.
Role: historical researcher, community engagement, curator, writer, designer
Brief, aims and outcomes: Responsiibility given to me for entire exhibition to celebrate amateur performing arts culture in Swindon from the closure of the Empire Theatre in1955 to the opening of the Link Centre's arts suite in 1985. To construct the story, engaged the performing arts community from 1950s amateur dramatic societys to 1980s punk bands, interviewed and requested use of photos and artefacts; archive research. Meeting elderly performers for research, I felt a strong responsibility to get the retrospective exhibition 'right' to celebrate and respect their work..
Additional tasks: project and budget management, contracting carpenter for built elements; exhibition and participation marketing materials; arranging artefact loans.

"The role also included a significant amount of public engagement with the people of Swindon who helped to form the content of the exhibition. Kate showed considerably strong communication skills in this public engagement role, quickly making links to exploit local knowledge, building goodwill to rally support for the project and keep the Swindon Museum & Art Gallery regularly informed of progress."

Exhibition research, story-telling, design*

Research: through community engagement and long chats with people who' d been involved in local performance arts, I followed a chain of connections and discovered links from long-demolished theatres to punk bands. Exhibition panels included 'connections' information to signpost through the exhibition:

community connections map swindon SM&AG

Design: Information panel; size of available images and available wall space dictated design. Images were sourced through Swindon Libraries' archive and community engagement. At the end of the exhibition panels were donated to Swindon Libraries' archive:

the empire theatre, swindon, museum, exhibition,history

Design: exhibition publicity poster:



Curation / interaction*

Overview: Loans of  artefacts – costumes, trophies, programmes, posters, music scores and albums, and theatre prop etc. – through community engagement. Children were able to dress-up in stage costume; chalkboard for exhibition feedback and comment.

Theatrical costumes and posters loaned by SALOS (Swindon Amaterur Light Operatic Society):

Kentwood Choir, Swindon, exhibition, display, cabinet


Stage and children's costumes and programmes loaned by The Western Players' wardrobe mistress:Western Players, Swindon, costumes, drama

interactive exhibition, swindon, museum



Entertaining Swindon exhibition launch

Launch and publicity: Dance school founder, Mollie Tanner, 'grande dame' of Swindon's entertainers, all contributors and the press invited to the launch.

Tanwood, Mollie Tanner, Pollyann, SMAG, Swindon, dance,theatre


Rob Stredder ( 'Theatre des Bicyclettes), Pollyann and Mollie Tanner (Tanwood Dance School), my good self, Roger Trayhurn (co-author of a book on The Empire Theatre) and  Jon Ratcliffe (SMAG Community Engagement Officer):

press photo, July15th 2015,