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Arts of the UK 2019: Fun Palaces 2019 (Preview)

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LONDON – Fun Palaces returns for the 6th year running with a weekend full of action and community-led activities, events and skills sharing. The Fun Palaces’ ethos is simple: there is creativity and genius in every person, in every place and acknowledging and sharing that creativity shines a light on the great work individuals and communities do day in, day out – and for which they are rarely celebrated. Fun Palaces supports communities to run their own cultural community events encouraging people throughout the UK and internationally create their own local Fun Palace, sharing the skills and passions of community members, whether they are experts or enthusiasts.

All Fun Palaces are free to visit and offer activities ranging from arts, crafts and heritage through to science, tech, digital and sports. There are no rules about what venues can or can’t become a Fun Palace. From the tiniest gazebo to the grandest public hall, forests and fields, what matters when it comes to making a Fun Palace is that community is genuinely at the heart of it. The campaign seeks to blast open access to culture of all kinds, emphasizing the importance of making the institutions many people feel are ‘off limits’ to them (for instance art galleries, theatres and museums) welcoming and open to all, and discovering the skills, enthusiasms or passions inside every one.

In 2018, 433 Fun Palaces were made by 9000 makers, with 110,000 local people taking part. This October will be the sixth annual weekend and, year-on-year, Fun Palaces has widened the diversity and inclusivity of its events, welcoming a wider demographic to lead and join in local Fun Palaces. Working in this manner helps shift the perception of culture to one that embraces and values everyone’s participation and production, questioning existing hierarchies and calling for the distribution of resources to be apportioned accordingly. Tiny moments can lead to massive change.

For 2019, communities in USA, Tanzania, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, and Denmark have already signed up to create their own Fun Palaces, and there are hundreds registered across the UK from Redruth to Dover and from Guernsey to Orkney. Activities on offer include yarnbombing, storytelling, radio show-making, Meccano model-building, T’ai Chi workshops and African drumming groups. Venues include Chichester Festival Theatre, National Maritime Museum, Dynamic Earth and two forests! There are new Fun Palaces being added every day, there is no deadline. If you can think of it, you can do it.

Stella Duffy, co-director of Fun Palaces and award-winning author, is a highly popular keynote speaker, panelist and activist for community engagement and inclusive cultural leadership. Over the past five years, Fun Palaces has witnessed exponential growth along with exemplary engagement across all socio-economic, ethnicity and age demographics. Along with the yearly weekend of action, Fun Palaces runs a Wellcome Trust and Paul Hamlyn Foundation-funded Ambassador Programme supporting grassroots engagement in Cornwall, Bristol, Stoke, Sheffield and Scotland. In 2019, Fun Palaces secured five years of National Lottery funding, from The National Lottery Community Fund, totaling £1.5m which will extend the Ambassador Programme to Northern Ireland, Wales and Inverness and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

Stella Duffy OBE, co-founder of Fun Palaces says: “Fun Palaces has grown rapidly over the past six years and is now both a recognized movement supporting and shining a light on community-led creativity and culture, and a campaign for more equal, inclusive and connected community and cultural sectors. We believe that not only should everyone have access to create (as well as consume) culture, but that when we are all welcome to contribute we will have more connected, more cohesive local, national and international communities. Fun Palaces believes in the genius in everyone – and welcomes anyone, anywhere, to make a Fun Palace.”


Fun Palaces runs from 5th to 6th October 2019 across various venues, free of charge. For more information, visit their website here

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