Education, community and culture
March 10, 2013 1 Comment
It’s amazing where adult education can lead, especially if we follow students’ stories after the end of their courses. Who would have thought that a short, part-time course could make a lasting impression on a coastal community’s social, cultural and economic life?
Screen-next-the-Sea has become a fixture in the cultural scene of the Norfolk town of Wells. The local Eastern Daily Post reports (at http://bit.ly/WeBPwT) how it began as an idea in a WEA course five years ago. Organisers held its second annual film festival this weekend, theming a three-day event around The Best of British. They presented a selection of films from across the British Isles.
The event has grown from a monthly showing at the Granary Theatre near the town’s quay to a twice-monthly screening, occasional matinees, live performances beamed in by satellite from the Bolshoi and National Theatre, and the film festival itself, complete with guest speakers.
The community cinema is friendly and intimate, with a loop system and surround sound. Nigel Baker, one of the projectionists, says that, “People like the cosy environment and the fact you get to know people.”
He said that an eight-week WEA course on Italian film sparked the idea of bringing cinema to the town. Mr Baker said: “We would like to think it will eventually attract people to the town like the well-established events like the carnival.”
All the tickets for a September showing of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time were sold out last year within a couple of hours. Other National Theatre productions relayed live from London to Wells included The Last of the Haussmans in October and Timon of Athens in November.
The WEA has been no stranger to film festivals in the last year. A new work by Turner Prize Nominee Luke Fowler was shown during 56th British Film Institute London Film Festival. The film explored the role played by WEA tutor E P Thompson in working class communities of post-war Yorkshire. His journals written during this time are read out in the film against the backdrop of contemporary and archival footage of the Yorkshire area. The film was shown originally for a season at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield.
The WEA runs film courses and some community screenings in various locations across the country. We also have many more examples of self-organising groups growing from our courses, including writers’ circles, reading groups, community choirs and orchestras.