On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the first Moon landing, the Dorset Moon summer arts event has been hailed a resounding success.
Over the last three weekends more than 41,000 people enjoyed Luke Jerram’s monumental Museum of the Moon installation in three stunning locations – St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth; Sherborne Abbey and the Nothe Fort at Weymouth.
In a unique collaboration between three Dorset arts festivals – Inside Out Dorset (produced by Activate), b-side and Bournemouth Arts by the Sea – each incarnation of Dorset Moon also featured a full supporting programme of cultural activities and performances many commissioned especially for it. All events were free to enter.
News about Dorset Moon and audience reaction to the three landings reached around the world with media reports in the USA, China and Germany.
“Dorset Moon far exceeded the expectations of the Dorset Festivals Consortium,” says Kate Wood, Executive and Artistic Director of Activate. “All three festivals are profoundly energised by the response from the public and the quality of the artistic work. The international reach online has highlighted our county as a place where truly extraordinary events take place. It has been a delight to present the work and partner together, with such a great set of iconic venues and a wonderful team.”
Alan Rogers, Executive Director of b-side highlighted the diversity of the Dorset Moon audience and the programme that was attached Museum of the Moon, adding: “It’s amazing is that one artwork, with a programme of supporting commissions and events, can be open to such a wide range of interpretation, from the happy vibe of a silent disco where the moon was used as a scenic backdrop, to a thought-provoking call to action to reduce our carbon footprint for the people taking part in Carrie Mason’s performative drawing ‘Pledge’, to families enjoying taking selfies supporting the moon, kids with that ‘oh wow!’ reaction and individuals using Museum of the Moon as a jumping off point for deeper contemplation, especially when the brighter, real moon was in the sky at the same time.”
In Sherborne the moon proved to be a catalyst for the wider community to stage a variety of additional events – some 400 people participated in interactive workshops run in partnership with The Paddock Project – and local businesses reported record sales over the weekend.
Dorset Moon attracted visitors from across the county and further afield with almost 10,000 people viewing the Bournemouth Moon, just under 18,000 at Sherborne Abbey and some 13,000 at the Nothe Fort.
The reaction has been incredibly positive. In a typical comment one person said: “So glad we made the effort to come. Rare to get a chance like this.”
And a couple visiting from Yorkshire said: “Will recommend the Museum of the Moon, it’s good for education and children.”
Director of Bournemouth Arts by the Sea, Andrea Francis adds: “Working in consortium with our partners from Inside Out Dorset and b-side has been a real pleasure, and Arts by the Sea was very happy to start the tour here in Bournemouth. We are very grateful to St Peters church for hosting us, and delighted that we could introduce thousands of visitors to this beautiful venue.
“It was wonderful to see people of all ages enjoying a quiet moment of reflection on their own, learning some moon-related facts in one of our fascinating talks, or enjoying a silent disco together under the moon.”
Dorset Moon was commissioned by the Arts Development Company with funding from European Regional Development Fund and Arts Council England.
This weekend (19-21 July) Museum of the Moon will make its final appearance in Dorset in Dorchester, presented from Friday until Sunday by Dorchester Arts and Dorchester Town Council as part of its ‘Moonbury Rings’ celebrations. Surrounding events include the premiere performance of ‘Apollo – One Giant Leap’, a new cantata written by local composer Geof Edge, taking place in Maumbury Rings on Friday night.