Creating a Conversazione in Saltaire
Saltaire is a workers' village built around a textile mill in West Yorkshire. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors love coming here, and it’s a fascinating place to live. Have a look at www.saltairevillage.info
Within these few streets history has been made, and people come to learn every day. Among local residents and tourists, students attend Shipley College. Volunteers produce a wide range of events, including World Heritage Weekend in April, organised by Saltaire Stories. Follow our progress at www.facebook.com/saltairestories
This year we are aiming high, to revive the conversazione. First held in 1878, this event was a regular feature at Victoria Hall until 1964. Conversazione means a social gathering focussed on ideas - a chance for people to engage with history, art and innovation.
We have a great set of activities lined up, but can you help us with the "wow" factor? Conversaziones were known for beautiful decorations, and we have to meet that expectation. If we can raise the money for materials, College floristry students will use their skills to make Victoria Hall glow with flowers and greenery.
The decorations we want to create are:
- two large urns on the stage
- balcony rings and swagging
- 16 table and window sill arrangements
- a superb mannequin in the Victoria Hall foyer
Between now and 18th April we have to communicate the attraction of this unique event as widely as possible. As well as floristry materials, we need money for our printed programme. It's vital to produce and circulate this in advance.
Attending a conversazione used to be expensive. This year it will be free entry from 10am-4pm for visitors of all ages to explore history, art, science and everyday uses of technology from knitting to bicycle repair.
It’s not an exhibition or a market, but a day to share ideas and skills. At the first conversazione in 1878, the Bell telephone caused a sensation – the equivalent we’ve found for 2015 is a 3-D printer and scanner!
Stories and items from the Saltaire Archive will stimulate conversation between visitors, villagers and descendants of mill owners. For the evening, Eddie Lawler (called the Bard of Saltaire) has written dramatic sketches to be followed by a dance to the Sultans of Swing.
Reaching - or exceeding - our Kickstarter target will allow us to create the essential decorations and publicity. Hundreds of people who've wondered what a conversazione is all about will walk into Victoria Hall and take part.
If you can, please Come to the Conversazione! As a World Heritage Site, Saltaire belongs to you - not just on 18th April, but all year round.
Donations will be very gratefully received by our Saltaire Stories/World Heritage Weekend working group on behalf of the newly-formed Saltaire World Heritage Education Association (UK charity no.1158756).
Risks and challenges
Good communication with the many individuals and organisations contributing to this community initiative is a priority.
There's always a risk of glitches on the day: in 1878 the plan to demonstrate electricity didn't work!
Bad weather could affect attendance. We'll ask the Travel & Tourism students who will be welcoming visitors to be extra friendly if it's raining.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)