The new Director of Fun Palaces

Join us in welcoming Amie Taylor as the new Director of Fun Palaces! In this blog, she describes her journey from volunteer to leader. Amie reveals her passion for grassroots activism and her vision for the next decade of Fun Palaces.

Amie Taylor dressed in a blue forensic suit at Brockwell Lido Fun Palace in 2016
Amie Taylor at Brockwell Lido Fun Palace 2016
© Helen Murray

I have been excited by the idea of Fun Palaces ever since I first heard about them, in a session called by Fun Palaces founder Stella Duffy, at Devoted and Disgruntled 11 years ago. I wanted to be a part of it, and joined the volunteer task force. We poured tea and rushed around doing odd jobs at the Roundhouse, Southbank Centre and Theatre Royal Stratford East – supporting early events held to share the plan for a weekend of community-led action for Joan Littlewood’s centenary. I joined my local Fun Palace team at Brockwell Lido and made a Fun Palace with an incredible group of people for three years running. In 2018 I made my own LGBTQ+ Fun Palace at The Pleasance Theatre in North London. 

Joining the Fun Palaces Support Hub team as a producer in 2021 was just fantastic, I absolutely loved being a part of the team – Fun Palaces allowed me to shape and develop the role around my own skills and interests; which feels true to the Fun Palaces campaign. I have loved bringing my own knowledge as a Fun Palace Maker to the Support Hub, often using my own experience to support other Makers. 

Over the past few years in my role as Fun Palaces producer, as I’ve chatted with Makers, written blogs, spoken on podcasts, run workshops and visited a plethora of Fun Palaces each year on the weekend in October; as a result my own understanding of this campaign has deepened. Fun Palaces create a long-lasting impact; it can be slow going to get there, but the impact is clear. I truly believe grassroots action is where the change happens, people on the ground, making change in their communities. And that’s what the thousands of Fun Palaces Makers do and have been doing for 10 years. 

For me, the activist side of Fun Palaces has always been the draw, that it’s not just a free fête or festival – similar to other events venues may host across the year. Making a Fun Palace is to make a stand; when a community, or a group of neighbours, friends or colleagues come together to make a Fun Palace, to share the skills, interests and passions that matter to them – whether that’s four people or forty, it’s a statement – it’s saying ‘Culture happens here.’ Whether that’s in a front garden, at a library, in a community centre, museum, theatre, park or somewhere else. When we put ourselves on the Fun Palaces map, we say ‘there is culture here too. We are a community packed full of brilliant people and we are standing up to be counted.’

Joan Littlewood believed in the genius in every person and so do I.  Things are really tough right now, but I believe that grassroots action and activism can bring about the beginnings of change. Fun Palaces have only ever existed under Tory austerity measures, but as Fun Palaces founder Stella always said ‘there’s no austerity of brilliant people’ – and that has been proven year on year with the Fun Palaces campaign, by the 45,000+ Makers who have gathered to make them. 

I step into this role as Fun Palaces completes its first ever rebrand, and as Fun Palaces turns 10 years old. Joan Littlewood and Cedric Price said their Fun Palace would be torn down after 10 years. Although Fun Palaces aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, as we move into a second decade, this feels like a good moment to pause, remember and reinforce that as an activist campaign we are here to shake things up and make radical, lasting social change, one Fun Palace at a time.

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