It is absolutely never too late to sign up a Fun Palace, even the day before the annual weekend of action, even on the morning of the day you want to hold the Fun Palace. It’s never too late.
Fun Palaces come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no right or wrong way for a Fun Palace to look. A Fun Palace might be held in a library or sports centre, but it might also be a table outside a bookshop, or a picnic blanket in someone’s front garden. It may have had months of careful planning, or it may only have been only been decided the day before and assembled rapidly on the morning. These are all Fun Palaces, and all create space for a connection to happen between people. Which is what Fun Palaces are all about.
If you’re thinking about holding a Fun Palace last minute, you might want to consider making it super tiny. Maybe you’ll even figure out how to make your Fun Palace as it’s happening. That’s okay. You might not have time to secure a venue, that’s okay too. Fun Palaces don’t necessarily need venues; you might collect people’s local history stories from a table in a cafe, give away an arts or science activity in the entrance hall to your apartment block for people to do at home. You might organise a story trail in your local park or swap recipes over the fence with a neighbour. Maybe you’ll lead a live science experiment, Italian lesson or Tai Chi class – on Zoom. There are many ways for Fun Palaces to happen without a venue.
You don’t have to pack a day full of activities. Start this year with a Fun Palace that runs for an hour, with just one or two things happening, inviting a handful of your neighbours, or people that live nearby to take part. Next year you can make it a bit bigger, if you want to.
Here are some top tips from Fun Palace Veteran Makers Lauren Jansen Parkes (Northfield Arts Forum, Library of Birmingham) and Katerina Pushkin (Cloud Cuckoo Land Theatre) who joined together to make a last minute ‘ROBOFEST’ Fun Palace in 2015.
- Keep it simple: a hard-earned lesson! Pay attention to the space-time-complexity continuum: balance these (eg. if it’s really large scale, consider reducing complexity, if it’s really technical, consider reducing scale, etc)
- No such thing as a ‘right’ Fun Palace – if you’re working with a community what is made will be right
- Draw on your existing resources: spaces (massively reduces admin / logistical workload)
- Draw on your existing resources: Fun Palaces stuff online – use the infrastructure as it is right there and will save a lot of work e.g. marketing, promotion, policies, advice! (The toolkit on the website has everything you need!)
- Draw on your existing resources: activities and equipment (what do you already have that doesn’t cost time/money to provide?)
- Draw on your existing resources: networks/people/orgs (even if you’re not sure how they’ll fit in, people will surprise you!)
- Be realistic about your capacity – this is supposed to be fun! (If you’re stressed it will affect the atmosphere too)
- Celebrate people’s unique specialisms! Eg. Ask a Scientist
- Take care of the people and the activities will take care of themselves: Trust volunteers to bring activities, recognise different people have different capacity.
- Don’t leave anyone isolated: make sure your Fun Palace Makers know how to get support straight away if they need it (from break cover to medical emergencies) and plan for everyone to get regular check-ins
- Embrace the chaos – you can’t control everything, and joy will come from surprise
No matter how tiny or last minute your Fun Palace is, it will make a difference – creating an impact in your community for months, even years to come. This year The Fun Palaces weekend takes place on the 1/2/3rd of October, join the many, many other Fun Palaces on the map, and take part by signing up your Fun Palace now.