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Arts and Culture Organisations

Dorset is fortunate to have a wealth of arts and cultural organisations which add greatly to the quality of life for residents and visitors. Many of these organisations rely on volunteers, either providing all the services or working alongside paid staff. There are a wide variety of roles for volunteers,  from preparing and performing, to planning and administration. You might like to volunteer because you are a keen supporter of the arts or perhaps as a step towards gaining employment in the world of the arts. Below is a list of just some of the organisations which we know welcome volunteers along with brief details of the roles available. Note that some organisations operate all year round whilst others have a limited period or 'season'. For more information or to apply to be a volunteer contact details are given.

Performing Arts


Location: 7-9 The Little Keep, Barrack Road, Dorchester, DT1 1SQ

Contact: Irene Archibald, Administrator, 01305 260954

Website: Activate Performing Arts

A strategic organisation which supports the production of contemporary theatre, dance and outdoor festivals/events across the county. We work with artists, producers, local government departments and  educators. Volunteers may be involved in various aspects of our work.

Barrington Centre

Location: Pennys Walk, Ferndown, BH22 9TH

Contact: Brian Sutton, Manager, Tel: 01202 894858

Website: Barrington Centre

Provides a varied programme of educational, social and recreational interest for the benefit of the local population. The centre is run by Ferndown Community Association. Volunteers work on various practical and administrative tasks to support the programme of events and activities.

Bridport Arts Centre

Location: South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NR

Contact: Margie Barbour, Programme Manager, Tel: 01308 427183

Website: Bridport Arts

Presents a variety of live theatre, dance and music, and has an exhibition space. Volunteers work alongside the staff team in a variety of roles including production and administration.

Dorchester Arts Centre

Location: School Lane, The Grove, Dorchester, DT1 1XR

Contact: Mark Smith, Administrator, Tel: 01305 266926

Website: Dorchester Arts

Presents a variety of live theatre, dance and music Volunteers work alongside the staff team in a variety of roles.

The Electric Palace

Location: Electric Palace, Bridport, South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NR

Contact: Gabby Hitchin, Tel: 01308 428354

Website: Electric Palace

A restored Edwardian cinema which now hosts live theatre, music and film. Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the operation.

The Exchange

Location: The Exchange, Sturminster Newton, Old Market Hill, Sturminster Newton, DT10 1FH

Contact: Isabelle Allison, Centre Manager, Tel: 01258 475137

Website: The Exchange

A community centre which is also a venue for theatre, music and dance, and an exhibition space. Volunteers are involved in many roles in operating the centre and managing events.

Marine Theatre

Location: Church Street, Lyme Regis, DT7 3QA

Contact: Nigel Day, Manager, Tel: 01297 442394

Website: Marine Theatre

Lyme Regis Community Trust runs the theatre to promote understanding and appreciation of the arts for the residents of the area. We support the presentation of theatre and visual arts. Volunteers are involved in running the trust, promoting events and running the theatre.

Mowlem Theatre

Location: Shore Road, Swanage, BH19 1DD

Contact: The Manager, Tel: 01929 422239

Website: Mowlem Theatre

Run by a charitable trust as a venue for live entertainment and films. Volunteers are involved in operation of the theatre and helping with productions. The trustees are also volunteers.

Opera Circus

Location: c/o Three Chimneys, Pymore Lane, Dottery,Bridport, DT6 5PS

Contact: Tina Ellen Lee

Website: Opera Circus

An opera and music theatre touring company, small to middle scale productions, UK and international. Commissions and produces new contemporary work linked to social and educational projects. Volunteers support performances in Bridport or on tour. Various tasks.

Royal Manor Theatre

Location:138A Fortuneswell, Portland, DT5 1LT

Contact: Tel: 01305 860792

Website: Royal Manor Theatre

Provides live theatrical entertainment for Portland. Also runs courses and workshops in theatre for young people aged 8 – 18. Volunteers are involved in running the company, events and the youth workshops.

Shaftesbury Arts Centre

Location: 13 Bell Street, Shaftesbury, SP7 8AR

Contact: Paul Schilling, Marketing Director, Tel: 01747 853224

Website: Shaftesbury Arts Centre

Presents a variety of arts and theatre events. Volunteers are involved in administration, front of house and backstage activities.

Tivoli Theatre

Location: West Borough, Wimborne, BH21 1LT

Contact: Wendy Frewer, Administrator, Tel: 01202 885566

Website: Tivoli Theatre

A restored 1930s cine/theatre offering live theatre, music and films. Volunteers help run all services including administration, front of house and backstage/technical.

Museums & Galleries

Beaminster Museum

Location: Whitcombe Road, Beaminster, DT8 3BU

Contact: Jenny Cuthbert, Collection Currator Tel: 01308 861146

Website: Beaminster Museum

Covers the history and heritage of Beaminster. Has permanent and changing exhibitions on various topics. The museum is run by volunteers who staff the museum, plan the exhibits and care for collections.

Blandford Town Museum

Location: Beres Yard, Blandford Forum, DT11 7HQ

Contact: Peter Andrews, Curator Tel: 01258 450388

Website: Blandford Town Museum

The museum houses and displays artefacts from Blandford Forum and surrounding villages. There is also a scale model of the railways of Blandford. A recreated Victorian garden is being developed. The museum relies on volunteers for care of exhibits, research, visitor services and education.

Blandford Fashion Museum

Location: Lime Tree House, The Plocks, Blandford Forum, DT11 7AA

Contact: Gordon Boutelle, Administrator Tel: 01258 454084

Website: Blandford Fashion Museum

Conserves and presents a representative history of costume from 1700s. There is also a resources room for students of fashion and textiles. The museum is run entirely by volunteers; caring for exhibits, visitor services, trustees.

Bridport Museum

Location: The Coach House, Gundry Lane, Bridport, DT6 3RJ

Contact: The Curator, Tel: 01308 458703

Website: Bridport Museum

Tells the story of the towns history from earliest times to present day. Managed and run by volunteers, including curatorial, visitor services and education.

Dorset County Museum

Location: High West Street, Dorchester, DT1 1XA

Contact: Anna Butler, Secretary, Tel: 01305 262735

Website: Dorset County Museum

A large museum recording the history, cultural and natural history of Dorset and Dorchester, owned and managed by the Dorset Natural History & Archaeology Society. Volunteers are involved in visitor services (including running the cafe), education and curatorial work.

Gillingham Museum

Location: Chantry Fields, Gillingham, SP8 4UA

Contact: Freida Attwood, Secretary, Tel: 01747 826235

Website: Gillingham Museum

A museum covering the history and natural history of Gillingham and surrounding area. There are permanent and temporary exhibitions and resources for students. The museum is run by the Gillingham Local History Society who welcome new members and volunteers to help run the museum and visitor services.

Gold Hill Museum and Gardens

Location: Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, SP7 8JW

Contact: The Curator, Tel: 01747 852157

Website: Gold Hill Museum and Gardens

Owned and run by the Shaftesbury & District Historical Society this a museum on the history of Shaftesbury and district. There is a permanent and regular temporary collections. There is also an attractive garden. Volunteers are involved in visitor services, preparing displays, education and maintaining the garden.

The Keep Military Museum

Location: Barrack Road, Dorchester, DT1 1RN

Contact: The Curator Tel: 01305 264066

Website: The Keep Military Museum

A specialist museum on the history of the Dorset Regiments and the army in Dorset Volunteers are essential to the work of the museum. They are involved in curatorial and archival work, and in visitor services.

Langton Matravers Museum

Location: Located behind St George’s church in centre of village

Contact: The Curator, Tel: 01929 423168

Website: Langton Matravers Museum

A museum of the geology and stone working history of Purbeck. Run by volunteers of the Langton Matravers Local History and Preservation Society.

Lyme Regis Philpot Museum

Location: Bridge Street, Lyme Regis, DT7 3QA

Contact: Bridget Houseago, Operations and Project Manager, Tel: 01297 443370

Website: Lyme Regis Philpot Museum

A museum of the history and especially the geology of the Lyme Regis district. As well as displays there is a large archive and collection of artefacts for research and education purposes. Volunteers are involved in curatorial work, visitor services and education, and helping to run events (including the annual fossil festival).

Portland Museum

Location: 217 Wakeham, Portland, DT5 1HS

Contact: Lisa Gravett, Manager, Tel: 01305 821804

Website: Portland Museum

A museum recording the history and heritage of Portland. Volunteers run the visitor services and curatorial tasks.

Royal Signals Museum

Location: Blandford Camp, Blandford Forum, DT11 8RH

Contact: Adam Forty, Business Manager Tel: 01258 482248

Website: Royal Signals Museum

A specialist museum on the history of The Royal Signals regiment and military communication. There are extensive permanent and changing displays and resources for education and research. Volunteers are involved in visitor services, interpretation and curatorial tasks.

Red House Museum

Location: Quay Road, Christchurch, BH23 1BU

Contact: Stephen Lowy, Museum Manager Tel: 01202 482860

Website: Red House Museum

A museum of local history with a large collection of documents and artifacts. The Georgian building houses a permanent and regularly changing temporary exhibitions. Volunteers are involved in stewarding duties, curatorial tasks, preparing exhibitions and maintenance of the gardens.

Shaftesbury Abbey, Museum and Garden

Location: Park Walk, Shaftesbury, SP7 8JW

Contact: Paul Willis, Museum Manager, Tel: 01202 482860

Website: Shaftesbury Abbey, Museum and Garden

Award winning museum recording the history of Shaftesbury Abbey, the site includes the remains of the abbey and the recreated gardens.

Volunteers are involved in visitor services, education, conservation, gardening and events.

Sherborne Museum

Location: Church Lane, Sherborne, DT9 3BP

Contact: Elisabeth Bletsoe, Administrator, Tel: 01935 812252

Website: Sherborne Museum

A museum of the history of Sherborne and district. Permanent and changing exhibits, archives and artefacts for research and education. Volunteers are responsible for much of the work of the museum including curatorial, visitor services and education, research and events.

Sherborne Steam & Waterwheel Museum

Location: Oborne Road, Sherborne, DT9 3RX

Contact: Geoff Ward, Tel: 01963 250206 or David Wilkins, Tel: 01935 816324

Website: Sherborne Steam & Waterwheel Museum

Set up to rescue, restore and open to public view the 26ft high water wheel which provided water supplies to the area. Also collections of other engineering artefacts. The museum is run by volunteers who are involved in maintenance work, research and visitor services.

Sturminster Newton Museum

Location: 1 Old Market Cross House, Sturminster Newton, DT10 1AN

Contact: Steve Case, Tel: 01258 472568

Website: Sturminster Newton Museum

A museum to record the history and people of Sturminster and district, run by the Sturminster Newton Museum & Mill Society. Volunteers are involved in preparing exhibits, visitor services, running the shop.

Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre

Location: The Square, Swanage, BH19 2LJ

Contact: The Curator, Tel: 01929 421427

Website: Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre

A museum recording the history and natural history of Swanage for public display and education. There is also a Local Studies Centre located at Marine Villas near Swanage Pier. Run by volunteers who are responsible for curatorial work, exhibitions, education and visitor services.

The Tank Museum

Location: Bovington, Dorset, BH20 6JG

Contact: Tel: 01929 405096

Website: The Tank Museum

A national museum covering the history of the tank and armoured warfare. Extensive displays and large archives and artefact collections. Volunteers work in various roles alongside paid staff, including visitor services, education, curatorial tasks and in the workshops.

Wareham Town Museum

Location: East Street, Wareham, BH20 4NN

Contact: Mike O’Hara, Curator, Tel: 01929 553006

Website: Wareham Town Museum

The museum tells the story of Wareham from prehistory to modern times, with a special section on Lawrence of Arabia. The museum is run entirely by volunteers who are responsible for curatorial tasks, exhibits and visitor services.


Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Location: 2 Selsdown Lane, Poole, BH15 1UF

Contact: Johanna Bueker, Marketing Manager, Tel: 01202 644714.

Website: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

A major regional professional orchestra offering an annual programme of classical music at The Lighthouse in Poole and on tour. Volunteers are needed at The Lighthouse to be involved in marketing, helping with mailings or in our box office for processing bookings, databasing and other tasks.

Coda Music Trust

Location: Chewton Farm Road, Christchurch, BH23 5QL

Contact: Rosemary, Centre Administrator, Tel: 01425 276161

Website: Coda Music Trust

A local arts centre dedicated to music, teaching people of all ages and abilities. We work in the community and with groups, and we use music therapy to make life better for people. Our music therapists specialise in working with people with disability or illness. We welcome volunteers for a variety of roles e.g. supporting tutors working with people with learning difficulties, the elderly, children from 18 months upwards. Also supporting the office staff and maintaining the site (a farm conversion).


Bridport Local History Centre

Location: The Coach House, Gundry Lane, Bridport, DT6 3RJ

Contact: Emily Hicks, Curator, Tel: 01308 458703

Website: Bridport Local History Centre

Provides a resource for people with an interest in local history and tracing family trees. Volunteers work on record keeping and assisting visitors to use the resources.

Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society

Location: Dorset County Museum, High West Street, Dorchester, DT1 1XA

Contact: Anna Butler, Museum Secretary, Tel: 01305 262735

Website: Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society

The society owns and manages the Dorset County Museum and runs a series of lectures and events through its affiliated societies and organisations. Interests include history and archaeology, natural history, geology, arts. Volunteers are involved in all aspects of running the society and its events.

The Nothe Fort

Location: Barack Road, Weymouth , DT4 8UF

Contact: Administration Manager Tel: 01305 766626

Website: The Nothe Fort

A fort built in 1860 for coastal and harbour defence. Now a museum displaying structures and artefacts from its long history and hosting a recreation of past times. The fort is also the venue for outdoor events and performances. The fort is run by the Weymouth Civic Society and a team of volunteers, who are responsible for maintenance of buildings and artefacts, visitor services etc.

Sturminster Newton Mill

Contact: Steve Case Tel: 01258 472568

Website: Sturminster Newton Mill

A preserved water mill run by the Sturminster Newton Museum & Mill Society. Run by volunteers who are responsible for maintenance and operation, and visitor services

Swanage Railway Trust

Location: Station House, Swanage, BH19 1HB

Contact: Mike Whitwam, Volunteer Coordinator, Tel: 01929 475212

Website: Swanage Railway Trust

Established to restore and run the former mainline railway from Wareham to Swanage. We have over 500 volunteers who work alongside our permanent staff, involved in all aspects of running a railway. Permanent way, locomotives and rolling stock, operations, passenger services, shop, events and company administration.

Painting, Sculpture & Crafts

Walford Mill Crafts

Location: Stone Lane, Wimborne, Dorset. BH21 1NL

Contact: Ian Lister, Marketing Manager, Tel: 01202 841400

Website: Walford Mill Crafts

Based in a restored water mill the centre is nationally recognised for their work in contemporary craft as part of creative and cultural industries. As well as the shop the centre run an extensive programme of courses in craft-related subjects. Volunteers are involved in the Gallery shop, in the education programme, design and administration


Volunteer Centre Dorset are thankful for the support from:

Dorset County Council
Dorset Community Foundation
Volunteering Fund