As some of you may know the museum was recently awarded a £4,500 "Start Up" grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, in order to undertake a full feasibility study to explore the best possible way to return a "working potter" back to Sharpe's. It is hoped that the re-introduction of a "working potter" or "artist in residence" would mean that a new programme of educational workshops could be delivered to the town and that the overall visitor experience could be further enhanced through the continued celebration of our industrial roots. As was stated by our Curator;
"We have been exploring the idea of bringing a working potter back to the museum for some years and this grant allows us to bring that nearer to reality. Many of our visitors expect to see a potter on site and we, like them, feel that this will be another real benefit in the experience that we can offer them!"
Now that the first phase of our pottery project is complete, we are happy to report the success of our initial research and to note how enlightening an experience it has been in making this project a reality. Positive steps have therefore been made towards the eventual re-introduction of an onsite, "working potter" at Sharpe's. Thanks to the funding that was so generously granted to us by the "Heritage Lottery Fund", we were ultimately able to undertake a number of research measures to help us investigate the feasibility of such a re-introduction. These methods included; but were not limited to ...
- The organisation of research trips to other heritage sites, which currently enhance their visitor exprience with the unique knowldge and skills that can be offered by an onsite "artist in residence" or "working potter". As seen from the updates to our Facebook page, trips were conducted to Middleport Pottery in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent and to an MDEM "artists in residence" course etc.
- The arrangement of a focus group meeting which allowed discussions to take place between our current cultural partners and our potential "pottery project users", to assess what programmes they would like to see offered to further benefit the developmet of the site and town.
- The collection of visitor feedback - particularly during the Festival of Leisure in June - from both our regular community users and from those who have not previosuly visited our site, in order to gage what types of activities and workshops that the public would be interested in seeing and attending.
Whilst we are pleased with the results that we have managed to obtain so far, we very much hope to be able to continue to move this project forwards in order to provide you with an "HLF Pottery Project - Pt. II - Update". So in the meantime watch this space ...