Victor Hugo Centre is capturing people’s imaginations

2023 was an exciting year full of interest, enthusiasm and support for the Victor Hugo Centre. Just as Guernsey fired Hugo’s imagination, people throughout our community are inspired by the educational, cultural, social and economic benefits that the Centre will bring. 

Since our team began its work in 2022, we have made steady and impressive progress towards our goal. Our message that the Victor Hugo Centre is a confident investment in Guernsey’s future resonates with people. They recognise that Victor Hugo’s global reputation is of interest to an international audience. With the combination of an international focus and local presence we can connect with a diverse group of visitors and act as a hub which will have benefits for all.  

In the past year we have shared our vision locally with talks and presentations within the community. We have also expanded our audience with the launch in February of our Facebook and Instagram pages followed by a new LinkedIn page.  This has enabled us to keep in touch with both the local and international community by sharing exciting project updates and news.  

In March, the Guernsey Arts Podcast featured the Centre and gave us the opportunity to explain our plans for one centre with three parts: an interactive and immersive interpretation centre, a flexible performance and event space, and a learning hub for children and students. 

We also visited the fantastic Art for Guernsey exhibition, ‘A Renaissance of Victor Hugo’. It was an inspiring show which emphasised Hugo’s continuing importance in Guernsey and the island’s ability to inspire artistic creativity and imagination. David Ummels and his team deserve appreciation and thanks. We look forward to working with Arts for Guernsey, Guernsey Museums and Hauteville House to create a complementary ‘constellation’ of cultural attractions.  

In April, a generous individual donated a very early edition of Hugo’s last novel, Quatre Ving Treize, to the Centre for the library in the Learning Hub. Like all of his later literary works, Hugo wrote Quatre Vingt Treize in Guernsey.  

The Guernsey Chamber of Commerce invited us to present our vision for the Centre at its April luncheon, and His Excellency the Lieutenant Govenor welcomed us to speak at Government House to a reception for the French community in Guernsey. Both groups offered enthusiastic support for the Centre.  

Summer got off to a lively start with our team attending a packed weekend of events at the Victor Hugo Campaigner Weekend in June. Hosted by The Victor Hugo in Guernsey Society, the event welcomed international scholars from the UK, France and the USA to the island to discuss Hugo's visionary social and humanitarian legacy. 

At the July IoD breakfast, we continued the momentum by unveiling our concept designs for the Centre created by DLM Architects and Casson Mann, our exhibition designers. The audience were able to visualise how the Centre will benefit from the island’s creative community, attract international visitors and help revitalise the town’s seafront and North Plantation.  

September marked a new digital milestone as we launched our website, providing a central hub for information and news from the Centre. Also in September, Mark Bills, former Director of Gainsborough’s House and Museum in Sudbury, Suffolk, spoke to an audience of 60 supporters discussing his inspiring experience developing, building and operating a museum similar to the proposed Victor Hugo Centre.  

In November, we presented to the Guernsey Association of Trustees lunch and the B4-8 Club breakfast, sharing more details about our project. Expanding our network with so many new and engaged people was fantastic, and we look forward to continuing this throughout 2024.  

As we look back on 2023, we thank everyone who has supported the Victor Hugo Centre, especially our seed funders, with special appreciation to the Swallow 2018 Charitable Trust. We eagerly anticipate the project's continued growth and thank you for being a part of our journey.