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June 29th, 2017 | by Jennifer Edwards

‘We’re here because we’re here’ nominated for National Lottery Awards 2017

‘We’re here because we’re here’, the modern memorial to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Rufus Norris, Artistic Director of the National Theatre, has been nominated for a prestigious National Lottery Award.  ‘We’re here because we’re here’ left a lasting impression on millions of people in the UK and humanised the great loss of life in the First World War. 

The public are invited to vote for We’re here because we’re here’, which is nominated for the “Best Heritage Project” award. The National Lottery Awards are an annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects. The winners are decided by public vote.

The National Theatre was one of 26 organisations across the UK who collaborated on the project with 14-18 NOW – the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary. We’re here because we’re here saw nearly 1400 voluntary participants dressed in First World War uniform appear unexpectedly in locations across the UK. The work was experienced by over 30 million people.

To vote please visit:

www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards

Jenny Waldman said: “I am delighted that this powerful artwork has been nominated for a National Lottery Award. I would like to thank the artists and creative team, the 26 theatres and hundreds of volunteers who made the event possible. The work was a moving tribute to the men who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and had a profound impact on those who saw it.”

The National Theatre is also currently celebrating ‘We’re here because we’re here’, with a unique exhibition presented by original project collaborators 14-18 NOW and the National Theatre. Multi award-winning ‘We’re here because we’re here’ took place on 1 July 2016 when more than 1400 voluntary participants in First World War uniform appeared unexpectedly in locations across the UK. The participants were a reminder of the 19,240 men who were killed on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Each participant represented an individual soldier who was killed on that day.

The soldiers, dressed in historically accurate uniforms, did not speak, but at points throughout the day would sing the song ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’, which was sung in the trenches during the First World War. They handed out cards to members of the public with the name and regiment of the soldier they represented, and, where known, the age of the soldier when he died on 1 July 1916.

The exhibition tells the story of the project through images of the volunteers from across the UK. This was the first time so many theatres have worked together on a UK-wide participation project, making it the largest arts participation project ever staged in the country.

Rufus Norris, Artistic Director of the National Theatre, said: “This work by Jeremy Deller was a truly national piece of theatre and a powerful way to remember the men who went off to fight 100 years ago. I also hope it will serve as a catalyst to strengthen ties with theatres and communities across the UK.”

we're here because we're here volunteer Adam Lily said: "Participating in this brilliant nationwide project was transformative for me. I have made lifelong friends with many of the other volunteer participants and gained deeper insight into life in the trenches during the First World War. Our respect for the soldiers only increased during this project."