Fun Palaces Scotland

“It’s about making culture, not consuming it”

Participant in Inverness Culture For All Workshop 2017

Fun Palaces celebrates culture (including the arts, sciences, heritage, making, sports) that are led-locally by communities, free, accessible and for everyone – young people, adults, all!

For the Fun Palace weekend, the 6 and 7 October 2018, we would love communities across Scotland to get involved and run events that celebrate the expertise that is already in communities but is often not recognised, sharing skills and passions, and maybe even try something new across different disciplines*

See below for more information and ideas, or see what’s out there and get involved now!

Scottish Fun Palaces

Some of brilliant Fun Palaces events from recent years include:

  • Getting hands-on with banana pianos, 3D printers and knitting, felt making and tattoo art across three Fife libraries (2017, 2016)
  • Releasing inner cave people exploring prehistoric art in Campbeltown Museum. (2017)
  • Warm welcoming to New Scots seeking asylum organised by New Scots who have found refuge in Edinburgh (2017)
  • Getting creative with art workshops at WHALE arts, Westerhailes (2017, 2015, 2014)
  • A pop-up shopping centre dance hall & a “Little Shop of Memory” in Leith celebrating memories of entertainment along with free science and art activities linked with research in the shopping centre with Leith Labs (2017, 2016, 2015)
  • A chance to become a spy with augmented reality games in Auchinleck Library, East Ayrshire (2017)
  • University of Edinburgh opening up its courtyards to choirs, maths-inspired sculpture making, clowning and celebrating the Kelpies in the Yard (2015)
  • Directing animation pieces at Tramways Art Space, Glasgow, as part of the Big Draw (2017)
  • Exploring the skies, biology tattoos, red squirrels or canine science whilst walking yourdog in the Midlothian Science Festival (2017)
  • Discovering the science of birds, robotics, coding and music at the Biggar Science Festival, East Lanarkshire (2017)
  • Laughing yourself silly with theatre, clowning and science with Learn Differently Theatre, Lochgelly,Fife (2017)
  • A Curiosity Forest with activities exploring squirrels, storytelling and research as part of the Scotland-wide Explorathon (2015, 2016, photos here)
  • A Mad Hatters Tea Party as part of Wigtown Book Festival (2015)
  • A community “Science Ceilidh” with science-themed dances and performances (2015)

Fun Palaces Scotland 2017 Summary 

Overall across the world, in 2017 there were over 362 Fun Palaces, with 13,750 Makers and 126,000 Participants. You can see the full evaluation here.

In Scotland specifically, a few highlights of the evaluation suggests:

  • The Scottish Fun Palaces
  • These involved a wide range of elements (see below) and took place in venues with postcards representative of the whole of Scotland in terms of their postcards and position of Multiple Index of Deprivation (e.g. 31.5% took place in venues in the top three most deprived postcodes)
  • The Makers – Who Made The Scottish Fun Palaces 
    • Our maker teams were diverse, with 40% including people from different ethnic backgrounds & 20% of teams included someone with disabilities
    • 80% of Makers agreed that making a Fun Palace helped them discover newresources in the community and 86% made new partnerships & opportunities.
  • Participants – Who Took Part on the Day 
    • The participants were also diverse, from all different ages, with 7.7% self-identifying as from a minority ethnic group (4% in the Scottish population) and 32% self-identifying as having a disability/long-term health condition (20% in Scotland), and 65.7% of participants sampled had postcodes from the 50% most deprived areas of Scotland.
    • 45% had never been to the venue where the Fun Palace was held before, and whilst many participants were engaged in the arts (69%), the majority were open to science but wouldn’t go out of the way to engage with it (55%) with a small number not usually interested in science at all (10%).
    • 92.3% of participants surveyed agreed that the Fun Palace made them feelmotivated to do more creative things in the future and  90% agreed events like these can make a real difference to the local community.

Download the full Scotland-specific report here.

Scotland Ambassador

Working to support grassroots cultural participation in Scotland year-round, Fun Palaces Ambassador Lewis Hou was appointed in November 2016 as part of a UK wide three-year action research project  on cultural democracy undertaking a residency with Voluntary Arts Scotland. With a background specifically in science-art engagement, he is particularly interested in bridging everyday creativity in communities with universities, institutions, arts organisations and art or science festivals (including the “public engagement”, “outreach” and “diversity” agendas) in a way that can continue to empower the community themselves. This includes projects such as Leith Labs residency, evaluating microfunding for communities, having conversations about best practice and challenges with grassroots groups as well as hosting talks and workshops to share learnings and challenge policy and practice.

You can hear him discuss his role here as a Pecha Kucha in Dunfermline here. If you would like support to run a grassroots event in Scotland, host a workshop or hear more about his work, please do get in touch directly by email ( or twitter. 

Get involved

If you’re interested in making your own Fun Palace or finding out more, check out the resources, toolkits and map on the rest of the website, feel free to join the Fun Palaces Scotland specific facebook group or connect on twitter, and get in touch with Lewis for a chat.


*Why are Fun Palaces not the same as a festival? 

*Whilst Fun Palaces can share many elements of festivals/open days, or public engagement/outreach events, the key differences lies in striving for more cultural democracy, including: 

  1. The Participation: Encouraging as much active participation and making, rather than having an “audience” 
  2. The Ownership: Not relying on external expertise or resources but unearthing that present locally/in the room
  3. The Power: The decision making is shared as equally as possible, not being curated but co-curated where possible – even encouraging people to think beyond their professional practice & share their other interests.   

That is not to say any of these concepts – e.g. being an audience or external experts – are a negative thing, but rather saying there may not be enough emphasis on the importance of active participation or celebration of expertise that is local (e.g. a mechanic sharing some of his understanding of the engineering behind cars, or passion for knitting or rugby)