Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 39 (2008) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/
Members might be interested to read some reflections, several months on, of the Fellowship's involvement in the Nuneaton-based Scenes Revisited Festival which took place mostly during September 2007. One reason for this overview is that the Fellowship spent some £10,000 of its funds on the events throughout the year; another reason is that our involvement in a partnership helped to secure £50,000 from Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for a Project Officer and the many free events he was to coordinate.
There had been talk for two years among the group of history/museum/arts enthusiasts in Nuneaton and Bedworth, both local authority officers and volunteers who had managed to rearrange dates for events, redirect small amounts of money, and give up time for what we called Culture fest in 2005 and 2006. That gave us confidence to look for a bigger celebration of George Eliot and to link it with a recognition of the 150th anniversary of the publication of George Eliot's first fiction. But we knew that to do it properly would require not only time but also money which could not be squeezed from existing local authority budgets.
It is important to pay tribute here to Heritage Lottery Fund. They came to a meeting of our local Heritage Forum, which was then planning an application to HLF for a number of things to enhance the presentation of local history in Nuneaton and Bedworth. One of the items was a request for £5,000 to celebrate Scenes. HLF advised us to isolate that item, enlarge it, give it wings, and submit it as a separate application. Taken aback by their urging us to request more than we had anticipated, we invited others to join a partnership which would make a joint application for £50,000. The four partners were The George Eliot Fellowship, the local Heritage Forum, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, and Warwickshire County Council.
We had a long meeting to hammer out what we wanted to do, how much it would cost, and whom we wanted to attract, ensuring that we could meet the requirements of the HLF assessors. Time was rushing past and we knew we wanted to employ a Project Leader to coordinate the events we had already planned and to be responsible for the publication of programmes, guides, and so forth, relating to the Festival. Eventually the Application went in to HLF in late 2006 and we expected an answer before Easter 2007.