Guest post: Jenny Jopson’s tips from Lates at the Wellcome Collection

Our latest guest post is by Jenny Jopson from the Wellcome Collection’s Events Team, who explains the idea behind their after-hours Lates programme, and how their most recent event Seize the Day came together.

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On Friday 2 November the Wellcome Collection opened its doors for a special Friday night Late called Seize the Day, which urged our audience to embrace the inevitability of death … and celebrate while we still can!

a band in red waistcoats and bow ties

The Silk Street Jazz Band at the Wellcome Collection’s Seize the Day event (c) Wellcome Library, London.

Event timing

The date was chosen to act as a teaser for Wellcome Collection’s new temporary exhibition, ‘Death: A Self Portrait’, and also marked the Mexican Day of the Dead – a festival that traditionally takes an irreverent and playful look at death.

The event ran from 7-11pm across four floors of the building, and featured a jazz band recreating the joyous atmosphere of a traditional Dixieland jazz funeral, the chance to decorate a coffin, storytelling, dance classes and talks from experts on the history of reanimation, the stats of death and memento mori in art.

A group of people decorating a hot pink coffin

Visitors decorating a coffin at the Wellcome Collection (c) Wellcome Library, London

Teamwork and collaboration

Seize the Day built on the success of previous large scale events such as Elements, Hands and Quacks and Cures. Friday night Lates are a special feature of the Wellcome Collection calendar – they are larger in ambition and scope than our regular programme of lunchtime and evening discussion events and performances. They involve multiple spaces across the building and enlist the help of tens of support staff – the events team, front of house staff, audio visual and catering teams.

bright yellow artworks hanging from clotheslines

Visitors created fantasy funeral cards which were hung up across the space (c) Wellcome Library, London

But it’s the audience that undoubtedly makes the evening go with a bang. Friday night Lates are unfailingly social occasions – people come in groups together with friends, have a glass of wine and never fail to amaze me with their open-mindedness, curiosity and sense of fun.

Marketing through print and Facebook

Over 1000 people attended Seize the Day, following a marketing campaign that included distributing printed flyers at other cultural venues and a lively Facebook presence.

couples dancing slowly in a museum after dark

Dancers sway together at the Wellcome Collection (c) Wellcome Library, London

The Lates style – entertaining, provocative, fun 

Friday night Lates have become an important part of the events programme since Wellcome Collection opened its doors five years. We want to provoke discussion and debate around biomedicine through our events programme, and through our Lates programme we also aim to be entertaining, provocative and, above all, fun. We have big plans to do more in the future – so look out for details coming soon on our website, as we’d love to see you there!

a girl wearing glasses smilingJenny Jopson works in the events team at Wellcome Collection, where she helps run a lively programme of discussion events, performances and Friday night Lates.

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Thanks, Jenny!

If you’re reading this and you’ve got something to say about any aspect of audience development, after-hours event planning or marketing for arts and heritage venues, I’d love to publish your guest posts too. Drop me an email at rosie@culture24.org.uk.

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