Fun Palaces 2014

Fun Palaces Evaluation 2014

We’re very happy to share with you the evaluation of Fun Palaces 2014, carried out by MB Associates. There is loads here to be proud of, plenty to learn from and grow, and – we hope! – inspiration for would-be Fun Palaces, especially from the case studies in Appendix 1. Fun Palaces Evaluation 2014

And a handy version of the highlights: Fun Palaces Evaluation 2014 – Summary

How It Was

On 4 & 5 October 2014, 138 Fun Palaces took place across the UK and internationally.

From Edinburgh to Dartington, Belfast to Blackpool, Wigtown to Whitstable, Dartington to Hull, Pontypridd to Berlin, Parkes Australia to Toronto Canada, Fun Palaces popped up everywhere, celebrating culture at the heart of every community.

(click on each map / photo to enlarge)

In January 2013, Stella Duffy called a meeting as part of Devoted and Disgruntled, an alternative theatre conference, to come up with an idea to commemorate Joan Littlewood’s centenary. Nobody quite remembers who said what – but Fun Palaces came up, and next thing she knew, Stella had founded a movement.

By spring 2013 Stella and co-director Sarah-Jane Rawlings were working away at their kitchen tables, saying YES! to whoever wanted to join in, and pulling together support and ideas to make Fun Palaces happen.

In April 2014 Arts Council England said YES! too, and granted Fun Palaces an Exceptional Award.

Stella and Sarah-Jane moved into The Albany in Deptford and were joined by two producers, Hannah Lambert and Kirsty Lothian.

A YES! from The Space meant a grant to get Fun Palaces online, and our talented digital team came together, headed up by Katy Beale and the developers from Mudlark, ably assisted by Emily Groves.

Fun Palaces HQ quickly grew to include Hannah Nicklin (Digital Champion) and Mandy Colleran (Access Provocateur) plus the fantastic Amber Massie-Blomfield and Daniel King from The Albany who managed the Comms and Marketing for the campaign – and all the time more and more Makers were saying YES! and adding their Fun Palaces to the map.

group low res

We had our press launch and roving national launch in July 2014, where we notched up visits to seven cities (Exeter, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle & Leicester) in two days – meeting Fun Palace Makers and making new friends with potential Makers all over the country. With the countdown to the first weekend in full swing, we relaunched our new website, produced a film and photo-shoot, and grew ever more excited about the numbers of Makers signing up to create a Fun Palace in their own community.

In total, there were 130 Fun Palaces in the UK, with a further 7 internationally (in Canada, the USA, Australia, Germany, France and Iceland).

3,183 Makers created Fun Palaces in their local communities which were enjoyed by 40,000 participants (counted in and out!), with over 60,000 people connected to Fun Palaces over the course of the weekend, online, passing by, and in real life.

The Fun Palaces ranged in shape and size, from the Southbank Centre to a swimming pool, from a shed in Blackpool to reclaimed shop space in Portstewart, Northern Ireland, in a woodland in Cheshire to a Flying Fun Palace in Sheerness in Kent. Over the weekend, the Fun Palace HQ team scattered about the country to visit as many different Fun Palaces as they could – Sarah-Jane learnt the ukelele in Ormesby, Stella held a snake at a school in Bexley, Kirsty tried riding a tandem bike in Pontypridd and Hannah played a ping pong game of truth in Croydon.

It was a truly exciting, revelatory year for all of us, we were constantly surprised and delighted at people’s enthusiasm for the idea and willingness to get involved, and we learned so much about what Fun Palaces really are – learning from the people who truly know, the Fun Palaces Makers themselves. We realised this was not just a one off celebration but an ongoing campaign for the democratisation of the arts and a celebration of culture at the heart of our communities.

Read some 2014 Maker Testimonials here.