Person looking at boat artwork which is hanging from the ceiling

Working with Mayflower 400

This year is the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, the ship that sailed Puritans to the New World. The Mayflower 400 project is an international series of events and cultural commissions exploring this historically significant journey.

We are excited to be working with the Mayflower 400 team in Southampton, who have developed and curated a programme that marks the anniversary through the lens of migration. Supported by Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Southampton City Council funding has been awarded to a range of projects and initiatives that explore a wide range of heritage stories. This includes migration trails, oral histories and new artistic commissions that will allow new voices to be heard, giving ‘hidden histories’ a platform to be explored in the city.

The funded projects explore a wide-range of heritage stories including African Bridal traditions, Chinese culture and stories of Muslim seafarers. Art Asia is leading a community project, Belonging which includes a series of creative online tutorials in music, storytelling and crafts, which will generate material for a large-scale installation in Westquay in November. Another project sees the collection of 12 new oral histories for the City Archive, capturing the experiences of people who have migrated to the city over the past 70 years which will inform a film project for young people led by City Eye and a new music commission.

The Earthen Lamp team will be working to capture data from the projects in order to evaluate who has taken part, how have they learned about heritage, and asking whether their perceptions of culture and place have changed. We are working in collaboration with the Mayflower 400 team to develop easy-access evaluation resources that will work across the wide range of activities and help to capture insights across the city and the programme.

We will also be exploring the use of the learning resources created as part of the work, and the partnership working, collaboration and skills development of the cultural sector in the city. Evaluation activity will take place across the whole Southampton programme – from major cultural commissions to smaller-scale community grants – to understand the impact on the city and its audiences.

On a wider scale we hope that key findings from this project will make a contribution to the overall understanding of culture across the city, especially useful at this time where Southampton is bidding to be City of Culture 2025.

In these COVID times we will also be largely working remotely and using online tools, using our existing skills and adapting to new ways of data collection and carrying out evaluation in a pandemic.

It’s a pleasure to be a part of this significant cultural project that impacts future thinking and cultural development of the city. If you’re interested in finding out more about Southampton’s part in the Mayflower story take a look at this video.

Mayflower 400 in Southampton

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