Reading, Sharing, Planning: Think Day at The Reader

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Putting our collective Reader brains together on another big Think Day get-together at our Reader HQ at Calderstones Park.

Continue reading “Reading, Sharing, Planning: Think Day at The Reader”

The Reader at Calderstones secures £1.99m Heritage Lottery Fund investment

heritage_lottery_fund_web2015 has been another big year of expansion at our base at Calderstones and we’re very pleased to announce that the next stage of redevelopment of Calderstones Mansion is imminent, thanks to a secured confirmed grant of £1.99million from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

In 2014, The Reader at Calderstones project received initial first-round development funding and support from HLF, focusing on building a series of history-based events, talks and workshops showcasing the heritage of the Mansion and the surrounding park. The new investment will enable us to build on the work that has already taken place creating a flagship International Centre for Reading for the future of the Grade II listed building whilst also commemorating and celebrating its past glories.

Sara Hilton, Head of HLF North West, said:

“The Reader is a real Liverpool success story that helps thousands of people get together to share their love of reading. We were hugely impressed by these proposals that will bring an exciting new use to the 19th century Mansion House and help many more people discover the history of the 4000 year old Calderstones. Special thanks must go to National Lottery players for making our investment possible.”

House-92A crucial part of the regeneration will be the rehousing of The Calderstones, the oldest human monument in Liverpool. These forgotten Neolithic treasures are older than the Pyramids and will now be brought back into the heart of Calderstones Park, where their conditions will be significantly improved for present and future generations to enjoy. Liverpool City Council, National Museums Liverpool and Manchester University have all been consulted as part of the process.

Initial work will begin in 2016 to secure the building which over the years has fallen into a state of disrepair. Currently hidden architecturally significant elements will be carefully revealed and restored, bringing the Mansion back to life.

The finished regeneration of the building will house a heritage room which will show how one of the many rooms in the Mansion may have looked in 1880 in its heyday. Visitors will get the opportunity to interact with objects and learn about the history of the house at that time. As well as these key historical features, there will be four reading rooms allowing us to continue our shared reading groups at Calderstones, bringing people together to read great literature out loud as a practical way of improving wellbeing, building stronger communities and extending reading pleasure. A newly created bistro will also allow visitors to relax after their visit and soak up and reflect on the atmosphere of the house.

ReadingGroup-11Our Founder and Director Dr Jane Davis has expressed her excitement on behalf of The Reader at the wonderful news:

“We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. It will allow us to grasp this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something truly special at Calderstones for the city of Liverpool and beyond. Not only will this mean we can offer more of our reading groups and continue to grow our wellbeing initiatives here but we can carefully bring The Calderstones themselves back to their rightful place at the heart of the park to be enjoyed and cherished by visitors.”

With this news we’re looking forward to 2016 bringing in the biggest chapter yet in the story of Calderstones Mansion.

For more news and updates about what’s happening at the Mansion, head over to the Calderstones Mansion blog.

Coming Soon: The Storybarn and The Wonderful World of Oliver Jeffers

Storybarn-Website resize 1Christmas may be fast approaching, but we’re already looking forward to opening up the doors of a very special interactive story space in the New Year…

The Storybarn, located at our Head Office at Calderstones, is Liverpool’s first children’s literature centre, giving families and young people a place to play, learn and discover the magic, pleasure and imagination that comes from stories. Our Storybarn team have been busy over the past few months creating some exciting things inside and The Storybarn will be ready to explore from February 2016, alongside a very special exhibition arriving at Calderstones Mansion.

Once There Was…The Wonderful World of Oliver Jeffers will let visitors to Calderstones into the stories of popular children’s artist and illustrator Oliver Jeffers from Monday 8th February – Monday 18th April 2016. Created, designed and produced by Discover Children’s Story Centre, the immersive exhibition is designed especially for children aged 3-6 and allows children and families to walk through environments inspired by books including How to Catch a Star, Lost and Found, Up and Down and The Way Back Home. Key aspects of these beautiful books have been reimagined into 3D such as the South Pole, the boy’s bedroom, a garden featuring a rocket, a street of magical shops and a Lost and Found Office.

Oliver Jeffers 1Once ticketholders have explored The Wonderful World of Oliver Jeffers at the Mansion, they’ll be able to head across to The Storybarn to be one of the first to experience the interactive story space inside. Storytellers will bring the barn to life with a variety of tales and craft activity throughout their visitor experience.

Tickets for both experiences will go on sale in January 2016, but those wishing to gain priority booking can register their interest now at www.thestorybarn.org.uk

Tickets to both experiences will be £9 per child including a free adult for an hour in each space. Once the Oliver Jeffers exhibition has closed entry to the Storybarn will be £5 per child with group rates available for large parties and schools. Tickets for the exhibitions cannot be purchased separately.

For more information about The Storybarn, visit http://www.thereader.org.uk/calderstones/storybarn or follow @caldiessb on Twitter.

A Year at Calderstones

House-109It’s been over a year since we signed the lease on Calderstones Mansion, making it ours for 125 years, and we were able to celebrate how far we’ve come in the past year at our AGM earlier this month. Throughout the evening, the Mansion fulfilled its purpose of being a home to our group members – some of whom had never visited our home at Calderstones before – who enjoyed good food courtesy of The Reader Cafe and Ice Cream Parlour as well as the atmosphere inside.

At present, nine of our weekly reading groups take place at the Mansion with new groups planned for the future – two of which are starting up in November, giving even more opportunity to visit. It’s not only our regular readers who are finding a home for themselves – our volunteering programme is expanding its reach, taking on a team of volunteers of all ages and walks of life to model how our community at Calderstones will work in future, and special visitors such as young people from the City of Readers summer school have already shown the potential of the Mansion as a place to make magic happen.

ReadingGroup-15And the process has already begun…since the signing of the lease in September 2014, we’ve been able to record some figures on how the Mansion is coming back to life. In just one year, we have:

  • shared reading with 20,553 people – an average of 395 each week
  • welcomed 4,600 people through the doors for a programme of public literary events
  • displayed 44 exhibitions from local artists and organisations at The Reader Gallery
  • employed an additional 35 paid members of staff to our enterprises at Calderstones

For more astounding figures from our base at Calderstones, as well as to get a closer view of what’s happening within the walls of the Mansion, head over to the Calderstones Mansion blog.

Here’s to the future, which we already got a glimpse into by touring the forthcoming Storybarn

The latest from Calderstones Mansion – including the story of the Storybarn

Jane in the refurbished Prinovis Reading Room (credit: Shirley Bateman)
Jane in the refurbished Prinovis Reading Room (credit: Shirley Bateman)

There’s been a lot going on at Calderstones Mansion in the last few months – with lots of help from the hardworking and generous team at Prinovis, we’ve been able to open our first refurbished Reading Room to enable our group members to enjoy weekly sessions even more, and the summer has seen a number of outdoor productions stop off at the Garden Theatre, including shows from Illyria, MATE Productions and three sell-out performances of Romeo and Juliet from The Globe On Tour, with not even a spot or two of rain enough to dampen proceedings.

We are creating an International Centre for Reading at Calderstones, so it’s fitting that we could welcome a special visitor from the other side of the world earlier this month. Shirley Bateman, Reader Development Team Leader from Melbourne Library Service came to The Reader HQ as part of her tour of literary projects around the UK and Ireland. As well as hearing all about the City of Readers campaign, Jane took Shirley on a tour of Calderstones, including the amazing Prinovis Reading Room. You can read more about the visit on Shirley’s blog: https://shirleybateman.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/more-famous-than-the-beatles/

More exciting news is just around the corner…development of the Storybarn, the North West’s first interactive story centre for children and families, is taking shape outside HQ as we type, and we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors from far and wide when it opens this Autumn. The Storybarn has been made possible thanks to funding from the Social Investment Business and their Liverpool City Region Impact Fund – our Head of Facilities Craig spoke to SIB about the plans for the Storybarn and how it will encourage imagination and a love of reading in future generations:

Keep up to date with all of the latest at the Mansion House on the Calderstones section of our website, and by following @CaldiesMansion on Twitter – where you can see the newest, very exciting installation to the Storybarn, tested by our Storybarn Developer Holly and Jane herself!

Opportunity: Volunteer Reception Assistant

As we move our Head Office to Calderstones Mansion House, The Reader Organisation is seeking a Volunteer Reception Assistant to join us as part our Calderstones team.

Calderstones Mansion House is a home from home for all of its visitors, and so this role is crucial in creating a instantly welcoming, friendly atmosphere that is representative of The Reader Organisation. As Volunteer Reception Assistant, you will be the first port of call for any visitors to Calderstones Mansion House. We will rely on you to create a good impression so above anything else you’ll need to have a good rapport with many different types of people helping them to feel looked after and at ease.

Key Responsibilities include:

  • Answering the telephone, taking and relaying messages
  • Greeting visitors in a welcoming and friendly manner, offering them refreshments, and directing them to the right location
  • Monitoring those entering and exiting the building
  • Keeping the reception area tidy
  • Providing information about TRO, Calderstones, and activities going on in and around the building
  • Providing assistance at TRO events
  • Providing general clerical and administrative support as required

What you will get out of it:

  • Internal and external training
  • Opportunities to meet and work with new people
  • The opportunity to use existing skills and gain new ones
  • Attendance at regular Get Into Reading groups and volunteer events

A full role description can be downloaded on our website.

Commitments:
We’re looking for someone who is happy to make a commitment for half a day each week (for a minimum of 3 hours per week). This role will be ongoing, with a minimum of 3 months commitment.

Induction and training sessions will be provided for this role, and must be completed before starting the placement.

This role is unpaid, but travel expenses will be provided as per TRO’s Expenses Policy.

For more information about or to express interest in this role, please email nicolacopeland@thereader.org.uk, or phone our Head Office at 0151 207 7207.

You can also find out more about the role on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/working-with-us/volunteering/volunteer-reception-assistant

King Lear – “Shakespeare’s Greatest Tragedy”

As you know, Calderstones Mansion will soon be opening its Garden Theatre for the first time in 30 years, to none other than Shakespeare’s Globe‘s touring production of King Lear! Everyone at TRO is getting jittery with excitement, and already a huge portion of tickets have been sold. So get yours quick!

We thought we’d whet your appetite just that bit further by showing you this trailer…

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the play is the story of old King Lear, who proposes to give up his crown and divide his kingdom between his three daughters. However, his rash generosity is cruelly repaid when he is caught in a web of lies and deceit by those closest to him, and he discovers all too late the falsity of values by which he has lived. Eventually plunged into despair and madness, King Lear is described by The Globe to be ‘a profound exploration of the human condition in all its extremes and complexity’.

I am a man more sinned against than sinning.

– Lear

Joseph Marcell, who plays King Lear, calls it “just magical”. Executive Producer Tom Bird calls it “one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies”. So, what exactly is it that makes King Lear so popular?

According to scholarly research, Shakespeare authored King Lear around 1605, between Othello and Macbeth, and three years after its highly-ranked competitor, Hamlet. Despite being set in a time far removed from its creation, its plot line reflects anxieties that would have been close to home for Shakespeare’s audiences around this time.

Thou shouldst not have been old before thou hadst been wise.

– The Fool

Performance History expert Rebecca Brown believes that Shakespeare drew his inspiration for King Lear from a mixture of myth, legend and history (read more). Strangely enough (though perhaps not so strangely…) Shakespeare’s version is the only one to end unhappily.

Two real-life cases that are believed to have had some influence on Shakespeare’s writing of the play include a lawsuit, in which the eldest of three sisters tried to have her elderly father declared insane so she could take control of his property. There is also the case of Mayor of London William Allen, who was treated very poorly by his three daughters after dividing his wealth among them.

Men must endure their going hence even as their coming hither.

– Edgar, as Poor Tom

Another keen theory is that Shakespeare was trying to expose the fragility of Elizabethan society in England, which demanded that absolute deference and respect be paid to not just the wealthy and powerful, but to parents and the elderly. The suffering of Lear and Gloucester at the hands of their own children demonstrates how vulnerable parents can actually be. So be good to your folks, kids!

Tickets for King Lear at Calderstones can be bought via The Globe Box Office website or by calling 020 7401 9919. Find out more here.