Fun Palaces is an ongoing campaign for cultural democracy, with an annual weekend of action every October.

The campaign promotes culture at the heart of community and community at the heart of culture.
The weekend of action uses the combination of arts, craft, science, tech, digital, heritage and sports activities, led by local people for local people, sharing their own passions and skills, as a catalyst for community-led transformation, with active participation for all ages.

Our workshops and our Ambassadors Programme support our work with communities; developing local networks, enabling links between individuals and organisations, encouraging large venues to co-create with local people, and small groups to shout about their value as grassroots community activists.

We have pages for each of our years so far, with annual evaluations, short films and brief summaries of the work by people across the UK and beyond, creating in their own communities : 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Weekend of action numbers since we started in 2013 :
overall : 1367 Fun Palaces made by approx 32,800 local people with approx 450,000 participants
2014 : 138 Fun Palaces made by 3183 local people with 40,000 participants
2015 : 142 Fun Palaces made by 2079 local people with 50,000 participants
2016 : 292 Fun Palaces made by 4800 local people with 124,000 participants
2017 : 362 Fun Palaces made by 13,750 local people with 126,000 participants
2018 : 433 Fun Palaces made by 9000 local people with 110,000 participants
(nb – more Fun Palaces in 2018 and fewer Makers/participants – this is because we had loads more small, hyper-local, very community-led Fun Palaces. Which is a fine thing. Large venue Fun Palaces with massive attendance are always welcome, of course, but there’s something about tiny, messy, chaotic, hyper-local Fun Palaces that is very Fun Palaces …)

We believe in the genius in everyone, in everyone an artist and everyone a scientist, and that creativity in community can change the world for the better. We believe we can do this together, locally, with radical fun – and that anyone, anywhere, can make a Fun Palace.

We aim to challenge the way culture* is currently owned and created by fostering stronger and more engaged communities, where people feel empowered to create the cultural activities and infrastructure that they want, through widening participation, supporting local partnerships and shining a light on unsung activity everywhere.
*By culture we mean arts, sciences, heritage, craft, tech, digital, sports and any other field in which individuals and communities engage together.

Empowering people and fostering change in communities
– To unearth and shine a light on people’s existing cultural skills and activities.
– To encourage people to value their existing cultural participation and production.
– To encourage people to work together to make change in their communities with culture as a catalyst.
– To reclaim local and regional public spaces for all.
– To make the most of local assets and how they are shared within a community.
– To cultivate the conditions for new and existing individual and organisational relationships to flourish.

Policy Change
– To shift the perception of culture to one that embraces and values all cultural participation and production, and for resources to be apportioned accordingly.
– For Fun Palaces activity, both the weekend of action and the ongoing campaign, to reflect the demographics of the places in which they happen.

Evaluation, reflection and learning
– To continuously share learning with Fun Palaces and beyond to build on what we do.

In the early 1960s, Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price conceived the original, never-built Fun Palace as a ‘laboratory of fun’ and ‘a university of the streets’. It was to be a local building, home to the arts and sciences, open and welcoming to all. For many reasons it wasn’t possible in 1961 and the Fun Palace building they envisioned never came to fruition, there’s more detail here.
However, the concept of a space welcoming and open to all, led by and for local people, is a GREAT idea and since 2013 we have developed the weekend of action and the ongoing campaign now known as Fun Palaces, supporting communities across the world to create their own events, community-led and locally based, sharing the skills and passions of the people of that community. Co-Director Stella Duffy wrote this piece about the leap from the 1960s idea to now, explaining how the campaign started.

Fun Palaces HQ is Co-Directors Stella Duffy and Sarah-Jane Rawlings, and producer Kirsty Lothian Here’s a bit more about us. Contact us here.

This is Fun Palaces’ Environmental Policy written for us by Paula Owen.