Below the BIORAMA will be a small multi-purpose biographical arts Forum, equipped for broadcasting transmission. Here, the BIB's International Programme of Anniversaries will offer a world focus for the celebration of famous and less-well known individuals, from all walks of life, presented both for visitors and remote audiences via television/satellite, cable and electronic communications.
The small Forum (maximum seating 96) will feature polymedia biographical presentations from public lectures to cinema, theatre to chamber concerts. The auditorium will be rectangular, with retractable seating to facilitate any combination or layout of stage-and-audience - thus favouring experimental productions, from dance to film.
A second, larger auditorium will allow for bigger audiences and presentations, offering up to 500-seats for arts events and, most importantly, conference facilities. These will help pay for the centre's arts programme. The larger auditorium will, additionally, be available for arts use by the college, local and regional arts groups - providing a much-needed performance art auditorium for the community.
There will be considerable 'white space' for visual arts and music use. Public art and craft work will be an integral feature of the whole BIORAMA building, represented in permanent installations and temporary work relating to anniversaries and artists celebrated at the centre. It will also feature in the Biographical Gardens.
The four acres of Biographical Gardens offer a distinctive opportunity to extend the work of the BIORAMA Real Lives Centre into the outdoor setting of the institution, as outlined earlier. No other such gardens currently exist in the world.
As designed by Camlin Lonsdale, the Biographical Gardens will focus on biographical themes, including the relationship between human beings and the environment, storytelling and memory. In conjunction with Public Art Management, the design of the gardens will encourage the commissioning of public art, and outdoor arts performance, as part of the centre's International Anniversary Programme.
The Research Centre of the BIB's BIORAMA Real Lives Centre will accommodate 24 interdisciplinary Fellows and Associate Fellows, including artists-in-residence and scholars. It will promote interdisciplinary research into the history of biography as a practice and as an art, as well as the investigation of individual lives, for scholarly and artistic/interpretive purposes. It will include every medium, cover all fields of human life and encompass biography as well as autobiography. Its aim will be to set and maintain the highest standards of scholarship and of interaction between scholars from all disciplines and artists working in differing media. The Research Centre will work closely with university faculty members, while its own fellows will contribute to the programme of the BIORAMA Real Lives Centre. The product of the BIB Research Centre will ultimately become part of the BIB database/information access centre for public use.
The object of the BIB's Educational Outreach Programme is to promote a creative and knowledge-enhancing interaction between the BIB/BIORAMA Real Lives Centre and schools, educational organizations and the general public. It seeks also to make biographical materials available in order to enhance the school curriculum, to further knowledge, deepen understanding of human beings, and empower adults and children to produce their own biographical/autobiographical work.
The BIB's Education Outreach will encompass remote education via Internet, ISDN and satellite communications, and on-site education through school and organized educational visits. Based on the outstanding example of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, educational sponsorship will be sought for full-time and part-time staff, including students seeking work experience, as well as volunteers from the locality and region.
Together with the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority we are planning a two-day national conference to discuss current practice and develop further initiatives in teaching.
The BIB Information Access Centre will not duplicate existing library or other resources, but provide a new national central electronic gateway to such sources , as well as providing an archive of the BIB programme of anniversary events held at the BIORAMA Real Lives Centre.
In this way the accessibility of Britain's biographical resources and heritage will be made available to all. Preliminary negotiations have been held with a number of potential 'partners' in this endeavour, such as association between the British Institute of Biography and Project EARL (developing library services over the Internet with over 100 public library authority members). Further funding will be sought in due course to digitalize and bring specific biographical materials either on-line via the BIB Information Access Centre, or make them available under license to researchers who come the centre.
In order to maximize income for the BIORAMA Real Lives Centre, the large auditorium of the BIB Forum will be made available for conference use at appropriate times of the year. Shop and café facilities will be available to the public at all times. The extra revenue to be derived from these three facilities will materially assist the BIORAMA Real Lives Centre in its efforts to become a self-supporting biographical arts centre.