What is a Fun Palace?

Fun Palaces is both an ongoing campaign for community at the heart of culture and culture at the heart of every community – led by and for that community, and an annual weekend of action – arts, science, craft, tech, digital, heritage and sports events and activities – run by and for local communities. Fun Palaces weekend is the first weekend of October every year. The next Fun Palaces weekend is 5th and 6th October 2019.

A Fun Palace IS

 Free: Free to enter, free to take part.

 Local: A Fun Palace is by local people for local people – perhaps a group of neighbours, a residents’ association, friends getting together, or strangers who decide to join up to create a local Fun Palace. If you are a venue, building or organisation, ‘local’ might mean your staff, the night cleaners, businesses nearby. It also means those  who live close but never visit, because they don’t think your place is for them. If you’re making a Fun Palace, we’d say don’t produce something ‘for’ those people hoping they will come, instead hand your space over and let them decide what happens. Pretty soon they’ll feel they own it. For TwoCan’s Fun Palace in Gloucester it meant working with the homeless person who slept in the doorway of their Fun Palace space – he joined in and it was his Fun Palace too.

For all ages: It’s often easier to think up activities for children. What about the 17-year-old who doesn’t consider themselves a kid? What about the 75-year-old who never gets to play? Can we make our Fun Palaces for everyone? We welcome children and young people as Makers in their own right; Arc Stockton’s 2016 Fun Palace was run by their young people’s group, as was Morden Hall Park’s Fun Palace at their National Trust property in 2017.

Inclusive: Most Fun Palaces are made with little or no budget, showing that even the smallest effort make a difference. Can you make sure your signs are easy to read? Consider access for wheelchair users? Are there groups in your local community you can invite to take part, who can share their own cultural interests? Thinking just a little outside your usual circle can make a massive difference.

Hands-on: Fun Palaces are about joining in with whatever your version of ‘culture’ may be (arts, science, craft, tech, digital, heritage, sports), whatever brings people together. We had this feedback from South Elmsall Library’s 2016 Fun Palace: I’ve met a young girl today who I’ve never spoken to before and she lives on my street, through chatting I’ve found out her Grandma was my best friend at school. Doing something together gave them a chance to talk.

Process as much as product: A Fun Palace is an opportunity to create with your local community or workplace. Of course the weekend matters, but the real Fun Palace is what you and your community do to make it happen, the meetings, the cups of tea, the organising, the conversations. It’s the thinking and the linking that count.

Yours: We don’t know where you live, your workplace, or your local community. You do. You know how to make YOUR local Fun Palace. If you want some help, check our Maker section or get in touch, we might know someone who’s done something similar – it can be useful to speak to a fellow Maker and we can make those links.

 Part of a Campaign: What you do locally will be influenced by your area – you are also part of an international campaign for culture at the heart of every community and for everyone to have the opportunity to join in arts, science, crafts, tech, digital, heritage and sport. Your Fun Palace is part of a worldwide shout for access and inclusion for and with everyone.


A Fun Palace IS NOT

A fête or an Open Day: Whether you are making a Fun Palace in a building, in a community group or as an individual, part of the role is to help other people understand that they too are an artist, a scientist, a craftsperson, a techie – they too can make a Fun Palace, they too can feel ownership of your library, museum, school, gallery, shop, town square, football pitch …

A community arts project or sci-comm: it’s both and neither. If someone in a community is an artist or a scientist, it’s great if they want to make a local Fun Palace. We also welcome those who have never done any arts or science. This way we support many more people to join in arts and sciences, and to create with our own local communities.

(ordinary) Facepainting: Fun Palaces are about turning the ordinary upside down – so let the kids paint the adults’ faces. Brixton Library’s 2015 Fun Palace showed everyone how to paint their own bones, muscles and veins on their skin – learning about the body and being artists at the same time. (See also balloon modeling, bunting, fairy cakes – can you hack an ordinary activity to make something totally new by and for YOUR community?)

A show, performance or lecture: If you have a band playing and people singing, that’s brilliant. If you have a band playing, people singing AND the band sharing instruments to teach the chords to people who’ve never played before – THAT’s a Fun Palace! This applies to anything that is a performance, lecture, talk, show or match – how can everyone join in?

Audience development: We’re not about audiences, we’re about participation. Yes, our statistics show that venue-led Fun Palaces bring in loads of new people, but we’re not about getting numbers through the door. We want to help venues or organisations be really brave, try something you are not in control of, something where you truly welcome the local community to have ownership of your space, making it their space. It’s scary AND it’s worth it.

On 6/7 October 2018 there were 433 Fun Palaces made by 9000 local people with 110,000 local people taking part. Our 2018 film asks Fun Palaces Makers why it matters to them and our 2018 evaluation shows that more people are joining in from a wider variety of communities than ever before – stepping up to lead in community and culture, making a difference right where they live.

On 7/8 October 2017 there were 362 Fun Palaces made by 13,750 local people with 126,000 hands-on participants. Our 2017 film brings together Fun Palaces Makers from the past four years and our 2017 evaluation shows we’re increasing diversity and inclusion year on year. We want to do more and better and welcome you joining with us.

On the weekend of 1/2 October 2016 there were 292 Fun Palaces in nine nations, led by 4800 Makers, with 124,000 people. Our 2016 film asked Makers why making a Fun palace is important to them. Our 2016 evaluation has loads of interesting stats and testimonials from Makers and participants.

In the 2015 weekend on 3/4 October there were 142 Fun Palaces led by approx 2500 Fun Palaces Makers, with over 50,000 participants. Our 2015 film asked Fun Palaces Makers how it was for them.

In the 2014 Fun Palaces weekend on 4/5 October there were Fun Palaces in 138 community locations, led by 3183 Fun Palaces Makers, over 40,000 people took part. Here’s the film of the 2014 Fun Palaces.

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