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Chair's Report

Chair of Trustees Report. Christina Gane

Annual General Meeting 07.06.23

Over 15 million visitors are drawn to the region annually by its natural and built heritage. The South West’s cultural heritage is, therefore, vital because of the contribution it makes to the economy and overall quality of life in the region. The museum sector is particularly rich with over 200 accredited museums in the region, which allows them to work in partnership with each other and the trustees are working towards joining that number by working with one of Wiltshire Council’s Museum Advisors and the Arts Council.

The first half of 2023 has seen us reach a key milestone. Many days of negotiating and hard work on behalf of the Council and ourselves, our legal teams, and the builders have brought the first phase of the new build to a close with the signing of the lease and the handing over of the keys. Our success is directly linked to the work of both the Council and the Centre’s teams, and I’d like to personally thank every team member for their energy and commitment in driving this project forward.

The question that I am most asked is when will the building be open to visitors? So, I shall attempt to put a timeframe around my reply. One of the first decisions that the Board of Trustees took was to engage Stonebury Functions in the role of a management facilities team. They have been contracted to prepare the business side of things. For example, arranging an internet provider, hiring a waste management company, overseeing stock control for the tearoom and retail area, sourcing cash registers and other fixtures and fittings and obtaining certification for things such as fire safety and business licences. Much of this is now underway, but it is likely to take weeks rather than days to have in place.

The aim of the Big Help Out on the Monday of the Coronation weekend was to use volunteering to bring communities together and create a lasting volunteering legacy across the country. Stonebury arranged to have the Centre open between 10 and 2 pm for people to find out what was involved as a volunteer for the History Centre, and we ended the day with 40 enquiries about different roles, and we will be actively involving these people in setting up, in the first instance, the ground floor facilities. The volunteers will take part in training sessions for First Aid at Work, Food handling certification, and Visitor engagement. Phase 2 will offer space for exhibitions and displays, an attractive and welcoming entrance foyer supporting a tearoom and a gift shop. To the left of the main door, as you walk in, will be a tearoom serving sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee. To the right will be a reception area with tourist information and facilities for visitors to make donations. On the right will also be the gift shop stocked with appropriate merchandise that will link to the exhibits and Amesbury. The Centre will be offering enhanced facilities for meetings, lectures and interest groups, such as archaeological teams during their field-based studies, artists, and educators. As we prepare for a soft opening, there will be an exhibition that we are calling Her Amesbury Story: a celebration of lives, experiences, and accomplishments that will highlight the stories surrounding twenty-one women with connections to the town over the past 4500 years. We are currently on the course of this phase to be complete and open on August 17th. Phase 3 will be the development and layout of the space upstairs. The trustees have been in touch with a firm of museum designers who have successfully worked with Trowbridge Museum and Arundells, who will help with the possible layout, digital content and fundraising. The initial thoughts are to have two galleries – one based around the Ancient Landscape, focussing on Blick Mead and the other based on the development of the town of Amesbury.

The vision of the History Centre builds upon established heritage by actively displaying and interpreting artefacts, documents, and information relating to the parish of Amesbury. The trustees aim to provide access to resources for research and learning to promote public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through education and community outreach.


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