How about seeing a bit of theatre in a full-size replica 1st World War tank? Or watching a commemorative dance with hand-made banners? Or perhaps participating as an Old Time Music Hall audience – letting the performers know what you think of their acts! New music from young musicians, new film shows of the Great War era, extraordinary installations and exhibitions – all these are part of the Great War MK project about to explode on the Milton Keynes community.
Great War MK is a collaborative project led by the Arts & Heritage Alliance Milton Keynes (AHA-MK). It explores the impact of the First World War on the communities of Milton Keynes – an area now covering six towns, 41 villages and 1/4 million people – through research, commemorative events, participatory learning activity and community workshops. During 2015 Great War MK will be presenting events and opportunities for people to explore and commemorate the lives and the stories of the Great War.
With funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and seed-funding from MK Council, this project brings together various arts and heritage organisations, which are all exploring WW1 themes and using different methods to tell stories. The partner organisations are: Cowper and Newton Museum, Deanshanger Village Heritage Society, Festive Road, Independent Cinema Milton Keynes, Living Archive, MK Gallery, Pepper’s Ghost Theatre Company, Westbury Arts Centre through support from MK Heritage Association: Bucks Constabulary Museum, North Crawley Historical Society and Simpson History Group.
Great War MK aims to work with people of all ages and abilities, providing opportunities to take part in workshops, and activities are now developing. To find out more see our events page and Facebook or follow @AHA_MK #GreatWarMK on Twitter. You can also hear more about the projects on our Vimeo page.
Alongside these events, Great War MK is also putting a call out to any community groups or individuals that want to be part of this large-scale project: we want you to create and donate your very own hand-made poppy to be added to a WW1 banner. Using the sewing template found here (or by knitting or crocheting), we are asking for as many people as possible to create a poppy that will be included in banners used as part of an act of commemoration in July at Campbell Park. To find out more please see the blog.
Marion Hill, author and Chair of the Great War MK Steering Group says: ‘Even after a hundred years, the Great War continues to move and inspire – and with the wealth of talented people that we have here in Milton Keynes, we look forward to so much more to reflect upon – because Milton Keynes does it differently!’
The stories of Milton Keynes in WW1, of those that went off to fight, those that stayed behind and of those that did not return will be commemorated through this project and we invite all residents of Milton Keynes to remember them with us by attending a workshop or event, making a poppy or by volunteering with us.