When I first heard about The People’s Festival, (which is in its first year and took place on Brightons Hove Lawns,) I immediately thought our Inclusive Spraypaint workshop should be part of the creative offering, as it would dovetail perfectly. The way it all came together reflected how most of my projects seem to work, I had the flyer for about 5 months on my pin board meaning to action it, but I managed to leave it to a few days before to contact Danny from Harmony in the Community who are the organisation behind the People’s festival.
Harmony’s mission is, ‘Enabling cultural, social and creative events through direct production support, consultancy, development, training and education.’
In a stroke of luck or fate, Danny mentioned that he wouldn’t have been able to look at our email so swiftly, had contact been made months earlier. I am sure there is some lesson to be learned from this in terms of waiting till the last/right moment, but not sure whether I am seeking to justify my work methods, (Which tend to be more instinctive, last minute or adaptive these days.) When things are supposed to happen they happen fast, and in this case it did.
Danny & I hit it off immediately as we share a common social awareness for inclusivity, and within a few days the crew and I were setting up on Hove Lawns. The weather was glorious and the turn out was incredible, thousands of local residents and visitors from overseas attended. If you would like to see some photos of all the activities which happened over the day including music, performance and community action see the People’s Festival Facebook page here.
We facilitated hundreds of participants in one day, as we were offering subsidised workshop spaces, a diverse mix of people were able to participate in the activity. We also have to take the health and safety of every participant seriously too as pressurised spray-paint in an aerosol is potentially dangerous. However its so rewarding to see people get so excited about being creative! And when they fall in love with what they have created it’s so rewarding. To explain how popular we were we had queues waiting to participate and at one point there were 4 rows of people watching and waiting.
The beautiful thing about our format is that the parents get involved too and end up enjoying and facilitating their children in an activity that they wouldn’t usually undertake at home! We didn’t stop all day and were so happy to have people coming up to us congratulating us for such an innovative idea. We sold out completely of anything which could be painted and participants ended up spraying anything that they could get their hands on!!
We are always looking for motivated assistants with a passion to help young people get into spray painting and in the process learn some skills themselves. If you would like to get involved in helping out get in contact!
We wouldn’t be able to facilitate such a space if it wasnt for the tireless work and vision of the organisational team behind the People’s Festival who devised the whole day which took weeks and months of preparation. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank them again here.
THE IMPORTANT BIT….
To end this blog I’d like to say that it was so apparent that this hugely successful community event worked fabulously because it came from the HEART. The general public could definitely feel the difference between this festival and most other festivals held on Hove Lawns which tend to be commercially driven. Many people fed this back to me and everyone had a great time. It was a totally inclusive event and also affordable for everyone too…where else in Brighton could you get a lovely chunk of homemade quiche and a huge portion of salad for £2.50.? The point I am trying to make here is that is was very apparent that the funding received by the organisers was used to the benefit of the public and planned in an inclusive way with diversity taken into consideration. Also without the support of volunteers with a passion for community, this type of event can’t exist.
Most events on Hove Lawns involve an entry fee to get in, then you obliged to buy things to have a good time…this one was totally FREE! There was a free reggae sound system, free entertainment, subsided donation based art and craft making, food and refreshments which were truly affordable, as well as a big emphasis on including people with disabilities and I think this was the best festival I have seen in this space since I have lived in the city!