Project Florence - Community Engagement

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Case Study
Wessex Archaeology developed an innovative community engagement initiative entitled Project Florence, and was awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The aims of Project Florence were to promote community interest in the rich archaeological heritage of South Wiltshire, to provide a range of training opportunities for local people and to complement the work of Operation Nightingale, a military recovery initiative for injured soldiers. 
 
 
Implementation

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Wessex Archaeology’s dedicated Project Florence Officer delivered an extensive and inclusive programme of activities over 13 months, which aimed to engage all age groups within the local community. Events included on-site activity days and open days, post-excavation volunteering opportunities, talks and lectures and creative events to celebrate the national Big Draw festival. High quality promotional materials were produced by Wessex Archaeology’s specialist graphics team in support of the project and a targeted media campaign was employed. Digital media formed a key part of the project, enabling several thousands of people to follow developments online via Facebook, Twitter and the Wessex Archaeology website. 
 
 
Project Florence also included several particularly innovative elements: 
 

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Make a Movie Project
The Make a Movie project was an exciting opportunity to engage young people with their local heritage and enable them to develop new skills and talents for the future. Through this partnership project between Wessex Archaeology and Salisbury Arts Centre, a group of 14-25 year olds were trained by professional filmmakers to film, edit and produce a 25-minute documentary about Operation Nightingale and the Barrow Clump excavation. The film received excellent reviews and has been viewed over 1800 times on YouTube. Each of the 11 young volunteers involved in the project achieved a nationally recognised Bronze Arts Award certificate. 
 
 

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Playing with the Past Archaeology Club
Playing with the Past was a free archaeology club for
8-16 year olds. Meetings were organised in association with the Army Welfare Service and covered a range of interesting archaeological topics and periods. Highlights included discovering underwater archaeology, building Neolithic houses and the Victorian Christmas party. The club successfully gave the budding archaeologists an increased knowledge of their local heritage and provided opportunities for them to develop their social skills and creative talents. 
 
 

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Road Show Exhibition
A portable road show exhibition was designed to showcase the discoveries from Barrow Clump and promote community interest in the site. The road show proved to be an excellent method of increasing public awareness. Over 530 people were spoken to during the ten days of the road show and the variety of local venues selected ensured that a wide range of community groups were reached. The high quality exhibition, designed in conjunction with volunteers and produced by Wessex Archaeology’s dedicated graphics team, also went on display in Wiltshire Museum.
 
 
Outcomes
Project Florence has been viewed as an exemplary community engagement initiative. It has strengthened communities by providing access to shared heritage and by equipping local people with a range of new skills. It has also fulfilled a vital role within the Operation Nightingale project at Barrow Clump by raising awareness of this worthwhile initiative and nationally important site. Through Project Florence, Wessex Archaeology has demonstrated an innovative and inclusive approach to community engagement. 
 
For more on this project visit the Project Florence Project Pages.
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