Building a Fun Palace in Tameside

14 October 2016

Gary Howard is the CEO of Complete Forensics C.I.C. and has been delivering inspiration to the next generation of scientists since 2013. He has been a finalist for Freelancer of the Year 2016 and is a Small business Saturday UK Champion after his company was featured as a Top 100 company in 2014. For Fun Palaces weekend 2017 Gary wants to learn how to balloon model and how to apply henna tattoos.

One sunny morning in July 2016 I was tasked to help my friends in Tameside Council by attending a workshop called Fun Palaces. Having not heard of it before and with a very brief brief, I set off and met some people who would inspire me and those around me.

The reason I was asked to take part in this journey is because I am passionate about science, but in science I see art as well in ways others may not think about. Without sounding like a serial killer the ability to create one-off pieces of art while conducting experiments with blood patterns is one of my specialities.

"We have formed partnerships with companies and organisations across the borough"

Anyway, back to Fun Palaces, we thought that a small set of activities taking place in the Libraries might be nice and a good way to engage different communities. Little did we know that Greater Manchester Arts also wanted to encourage participation in this initiative. Suddenly the event took off in a whole new direction when funding was introduced.

As the project manager (PM) I could focus on the plan and encourage many more groups and people to get involved.

How would we form those links and get the “ask” out to the community?

It was decided that an information evening would be held and participants invited from social media and press releases through our established networks. The evening was used to introduce Fun Palaces and let them see the ideas of the Makers, thus inspiring them to get involved. With about 20 people present the information evening went well but we had more sign ups through direct contacts for people to deliver activities.

After that evening we followed up and contacted everyone present to see if they still would like to be involved and not all have responded. In future years this issue may be passed over as we will have a history of delivery that we can use to market the event and the attractions to activity makers.

What we've got planned

So, we have about 20 activities including a climbing wall and indoor archery, a music making session with drums or brass instruments, magnetic slime, oversized pin hole cameras, science busking, sewing, an open mic activity and so much more. We have formed partnerships with companies and organisations across the borough to supply equipment and activities, and used STEMnet with the Museum of Science and Industry to help with volunteers. And all of this has helped to make sure the Tameside Fun Palace will be the best we can offer, but also build a solid platform to grow the event in successive years.

"I am sure Fun Palaces are in Tameside to stay!"

WOW…. It is now after the event and what an event it was!

From a poet to a bricklayer, from a climbing wall to pancake making, from playing the drums to coin and stamp collecting Tameside had it all. Over 20 activities all came together and provided a day of exceptional excitement and wonder for Tameside. One respondent told her mother “It is the best day ever!” while more smiles were made than in the whole of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film!

As a Maker the day was a lot easier to run than the organisation beforehand. There were issues and problems but they could be sorted out there and then. Nothing at all spoilt the day.

We have a clear view of what would be needed in 2017 to better this year but I am sure Fun Palaces are in Tameside to stay!

The Tameside Libraries Fun Palace is a partnership between Fun Palaces, GM Arts, TASC, Tameside MBC Libraries, Tameside MBC Culture, HBWA, New Charter and Complete Forensics.

pancake flipping

having a go on a range of brass instruments

Some of the Tameside Fun Palaces Makers