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Project information

Hippodrome Heritage

Birmingham Hippodrome has been at the beating heart of Birmingham since 1899. We have a unique theatre history that we want to share with the world. Hippodrome Heritage will bring our story to life through physical conservation and digital technologies, with public access taking centre stage.

September 2015 - September 2016

Charity information: Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust

Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust logo
  • Need


    Since 1899 Birmingham Hippodrome has been presenting world class performances and today we welcome c.500,000 visitors each year. We have over 100 years worth of unique heritage items, from original bill posters to architectural plans, photos to moving footage. The collection consists of over 6,000 items and is not currently catalogued, digitised, properly stored or available to the general public. Our audiences and visitors currently have little access, despite demand. We want to change this


    Over the next 12 months we will deliver a heritage programme to:
    • SAVE lost theatre memorabilia before it’s too late
    • CAPTURE memories through Oral History interviews
    • PRESERVE our collection for generations to come
    • DIGITISE our archive for the widest possible access
    • OPEN our doors at family friendly heritage open days
    • TRANSFORM access to archives through new technologies
    • ENGAGE young people through a history programme for schools

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Preserve our collection for generations to come, before it is too late.


    » Call out for archive materials- discovering new documents relating to our history to help fill in the gaps in our collection
    » Capture Oral History records from the stars of the stage, past staff, audiences and visitors, ensuring the real voices of our history are heard
    » Fully catalogue our collection, ensuring it can be fully searched and made accessible
    » Store our collection in archive conditions, ensuring it does not deteriorate over time

    What success will look like

    We will have found lost materials, captured oral histories, catalogued thousands of items and ensured our collection is properly stored.

    Aim 2

    Make our collection as accessible and engaging as possible for the general public


    » Digitise our collection, ensuring it is not just paper based with limited access
    » Use our digitised archive content to create a fully searchable and engaging heritage website
    » Use our digitised archive to create content for a Touch Table for our theatre foyer, and for a series of tablets for use in educational settings
    » Host a series of family friendly Open Days, throwing open our doors and offering a window into our past heritage

    What success will look like

    We will have: digitised our collection, installed our Touch Table and other technologies, delivered 3 successful Open Days and launched our new heritage website

    Aim 3

    Use our history to excite and engage children and volunteers, as well as offering skills development


    » Offer 35+ volunteers of all ages and backgrounds training in heritage skills through a 12 month volunteer programme
    » Develop a Hippodrome Heritage education programme in conjunction with Birmingham Schools, linked to the aims of the History Curriculum
    » Deliver workshops, talks and tours for primary and secondary school children, vulnerable adults and family and community groups

    What success will look like

    We will have delivered a 12 month volunteer programme, offering new skills and experiences. Plus 600 children will have engaged with our archive, bringing local history to life

  • Impact


    We will have a rich archive and heritage collection for use in future creative learning projects.
    We will have engaged thousands of visitors and audiences - past and present - in our rich and unique heritage.
    We will have new assets - our physical archive, our touch tables, tablets and website - to enable unique hertiage discoveries
    We will have bought to life our heritage and will continue to build our archive and ensure it is preserved and enjoyed by generations yet to come.


    Risks could include:
    -Quality - We have appointed an experienced archive specialist and project manager to ensure the project is delivered successfully.
    -Breadth of Scope - Our Project Managers have a clear project and evaluation plan to keep us on track through phase one of our heritage journey.
    -Funding - We have secured over 70% of the budget necessary and we are confident we can deliver the project successfully with the support of the public and Big Give Donors


    -Our Big Give Donors will be supporting 3 areas of the project budget - Preservation, Education and our Open Days.
    -We will send our donors regular updates and invite them to all our Open Days.
    -Our Big Give donors will be invited to exclusive donor events linked to our Heritage Project

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £30,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £15,000 Preservation and Digitisation Preservation, Cataloguing and Digitisation
      £15,000 Education and Open Days Education programme in schools and Open Days

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Birmingham Hippodrome Contribution £10,000 Guaranteed
    Trusts and Foundations £8,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Our project will take place in Birmingham and the West Midlands


    Who Benefits?
    -35+ volunteers aged 16+ will engage with the project and gain skills in heritage conservation
    -600+ young people will take part in a specialist history workshop using our collection
    -3,500+ visitors will engage with our Open Days, Backstage Tours and Heritage Talks
    -30,000+ people will engage with our digital collections (touch tables & website) annually
    -Academics, students and the general public will have access to our online archive

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Birmingham Hippodrome is an independent charitable trust, and can rightly claim to be the most popular theatre in the UK, with over 500,000 visits each year. We are also one of the oldest theatres in the UK and certainly within the West Midlands. We have a skilled staff team and board of trustees who can help steer this project to success, and we have made an organisational wide commitment to preserving and making our heritage accessible to all

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Martin Guest

    Martin is the Chair of our Development Trust and will be acting as a chamption of the Heritage Project and our fundraising aims

    Gwendolen Whittaker

    Gwendolen is our Heritage Specialist and has worked in arts and heritage for over 15 years, curating and managing rich & varied collections nationwide

    Jenny Smith

    Jenny is a freelance Producer and Project Manager, who has worked across all artforms and has over 14 years experience managing similar projects

Original Hippodrome Poster

Original Hippodrome Poster


Will preserve 10 lost theatre programmes

I have long felt that the Hippodrome needed to shout out its heritage and bring out the rich stories of the stars and the staff over 100 years

Ivan Heard, Project Volunteer