Polka40 Blog : The fun continues…

December 17, 2019

Welcome back to our Polka40 blog, a series offering unique insight into the process behind the creation of our magical family exhibition at Morden Hall Park. Written by Polka40 volunteer, Gemma Laight. 

…Aaaand we’re back: We’ve had a very full couple of months with lots of events and activities going on as part of our 40th anniversary celebration. You may have seen our exhibition around Merton, attended our workshops or joined our arts & crafts/storytelling events. Don’t worry if you missed out – we still have so many exciting things coming up. More on that to come!

After 4 months of going through our archives and collections, interviewing key Polka people, conducting all sorts of research and coming up with creative and fun activities for families to learn and enjoy, Polka finally got to show off its History exhibition, following a grand opening on 15th July at Morden Hall Park. We were joined by Polka patrons, former and current staff and special guests, including the Mayor of Wimbledon, for a fun-filled day with enchanting music performed by The Red Hot Rags, delicious catering offered by Gingham Hearts (yummy) and most importantly wonderful visitor guiding and service provided by our fantastic team of volunteers and Youth Members.

With the exhibition open to the public, visitors got to experience the magic behind Polka Theatre. We had something for everyone with a whole range of activities on offer that represented each key aspect of Polka life, from script writing to costume design to set design to prop making to performing on stage, and the list could go on. There were plenty of dress-up opportunities as well, especially during workshops lead by Polka staff and volunteers. We even paid homage to our early routes with workshops around puppetry. Alongside the exhibition and workshops, Polka ran a range of arts and crafts activities as well as exciting story telling sessions.

The exhibition at Morden Hall Park closed its doors on the 2nd August. In just 17 days we received more than 1,800 visitors, many of whom were meeting us for the first time, so got to learn a lot about Polka and what we do. Our volunteers did an incredible job manning the exhibition and engaging with our visitors, answering their questions, showing their little ones how to play certain games or chatting about the importance of (children’s) theatre.

We also asked visitors to give us feedback about the exhibition and received some amazing responses! Guests described the experience as: exciting, extraordinary, creative, educational, fun, uplifting, engaging, memorable and wonderful, to name just a few of the most used adjectives.

“Hands-on, child-friendly, welcoming. An amazing experience for kids!
Parent of 6year old twins

“Did we enjoy the exhibition?! A definite YES. We loved it!”
9 year old visitor

The end of the summer didn’t mean the end of the exhibition fun though! In September, our volunteers and staff set up a scaled down version of the exhibition in Wimbledon Library. Then in October, they moved parts of the exhibition to Morden Library. Our so-called Box Office proved to be very well received – it was packed with kids on all sides on its last day at Morden Library.

Don’t worry if you’ve not had a chance to visit our exhibition yet, as parts of it will be visiting libraries around the local community over the next few months on the following dates:

–          Pollards Hill Library 14th December to 11th January

–          Mitcham Library 16th February to 29th February

–          Colliers Wood Library 4th April to 25th April

We’re also offering free workshops in each of the libraries, so do make sure to come along and step into the magical world of Polka!


Gemma Laight