Patron, Loyd Grossman has launched, what he calls, ‘the world’s greatest heritage festival’, rousing visitors to get out and about and ‘treasure your treasures’ at 5000 free events taking place across England during Heritage Open Days between Thursday 8 and Sunday 11 September.
‘Treasure Your Treasures’ is the theme for this year’s annual four-day festival, which calls on communities to champion their local heritage and show their support for cultural and historic assets on their doorsteps. Visitors are encouraged to capture themselves on camera with the objects, people or places that they treasure and to share their stories online via social media using the hashtag #TreasureYourTreasures. Specially made Heritage Open Days frames will be positioned in each region at some of the free events for people to put themselves in the picture together with or in front of their treasures.
The ‘treasures’ theme comes following the results of a straw poll by Heritage Open Days, which showed that 95% of Heritage Open Days organisers had fears about the future of places like museums, galleries, archives, theatres, parks and historic sites in their own communities, which may be facing financial uncertainty. 225 local organisers responded to the survey about their treasures and their level of concern about the effects of funding cuts. They felt overwhelmingly that Heritage Open Days had an important role to play in supporting the future of their local treasures.
Loyd Grossman said the 5,000 free events held during the festival provided the ideal platform to stand up and shout about local treasures. He encouraged people to engage with heritage as visitors and volunteers, and to get behind campaigns to retain access to places like museums, archives, libraries, galleries, theatres, parks and historic sites.
In the last 22 years, Heritage Open Days has grown from 701 events to over 4800 in 2015 with some 3.4 million visitors enjoying free-to-access events and activities over four days in September. Over 40,000 volunteers help to run the festival making it the biggest grassroots celebration of culture and heritage in the UK. It is coordinated centrally by the National Trust with funding from Players of People's Postcode Lottery. The festival provides an opportunity to showcase buildings and hidden histories in communities.
The database for this year's festival is now live at www.heritageopendays.org.uk.
A selection of highlights in Leicestershire:
‘Raucous Races,’ Victoria Park, Leicester
Come and join a fun activity day and visit the Past of Victoria Park with an afternoon of Raucous Races! Costumed characters, live music and time travel with a twist! You can compete in memorable live action interactive races including the horsey hopper obstacle race and balloon blow up challenge. This event is suitable for families and children.
Leicester City Bus Depot, Leicester
Leicester City Bus Depot was refurbished in 2004 and transformed into an award winning workspace hub for creative businesses. This is an exciting opportunity to join a guided tour to see many of the quirky original features of the building including its money vaults. Some tenant companies may also have their doors open for visitors to take a sneaky peak.
Leicester Cathedral Bell Tower, Leicester
In the heart of historic Leicester adjacent to the medieval Leicester Guildhall and opposite the King Richard III Visitor Centre. The bell tower will be open to visitors with a member of the bell ringing team available to talk about the art of bell ringing, campanology and the fine set of bells. In 1937 John Taylor and Son of Loughborough recast and rehung all 10 bells and added three new ones. Pre booking essential.
Leicester Print Workshop, Leicester
Leicester Print Workshop, the Midlands Centre for Fine Art Printmaking, celebrates its 30th birthday in 2016. The building, a converted 1970s warehouse originally built as a Steel Fabricators for George Alton, still retains the decommissioned crane beam and now houses a fully equipped printmaking studio, a small exhibition space and a shop. Drop in to join a walking tour of the building and see the current exhibition, the studio and the upper floor artist studios. There will be an opportunity to take part in drop in printmaking sessions and watch and learn from demonstrations.
Tours of Leicester's Creative Quarter
RIBA and Leicester City Council are offering guided walks around Leicester’s Creative Quarter, which will include visits to Leicester Print Workshop, which won an RIBA East Midlands Awards and additional Special Awards this year.
The tour will cover the history and recent transformation of the area from hosiery and boot making factories to today’s creative industries. The walk includes the LCB Depot, Curve, Maker’s Yard, Phoenix and 2016 RIBA East Midlands Award-winner, Leicester Print Workshop. Not to be missed! Led by architect Nils Feldmann on behalf of the Leicestershire and Rutland Society of Architects. 1-3pm/4-6pm 10 September, booking essential (Eventbrite http://bit.ly/295xrtp, http://bit.ly/29bT8ua).