Maker Stories from 2017

We asked a variety of Makers about their Fun Palaces experience

Exeter Library in Devon, Northfield Arts Forum in Birmingham, Morden Hall Park National Trust property, Here East in London and Farnham Fun Palace in Surrey told us how it was for them and offered a few tips for other Makers …

Exeter Library – Devon
We ran our first Fun Palace in 2016 we did not know if it would work, how many people would come or how the weekend would look. I went to one of Stella’s workshops and she said it was fine if it wasn’t ok and just to do it, so we did !  We were the first Devon Library to hold a Fun Palace and it was more than ok, it was great. We had a 20-21% increase on footfall on the previous weekend in 2015 and we had 30 makers over the 2 days with 16 activities.We had the Met Office, knitting atoms, printmaking and a dinosaur called Geraldine! We were surprised and delighted in the level of engagement.
So in 2017 us and 13 other Devon Libraries came back for our second Fun Palace. This year the star of  our Fun Palace was undoubtedly The Bellhouse with Kalieder and it’s artist Roop. Bringing another diverse and different audience for Exeter Library to our Fun Palace was this  interactive Art installation. On top of this we had printmaking, a clay workshop, Bollywood Dancing, and Belly dancing.  Visitor numbers were again up another 10 % on last year.
Lessons we have learnt – be brave, don’t be afraid to try new things, and to be able to hand over your space to Artists, Makers, Dinosaurs. Not only will you  be surprised at what fun it can be, but how many new people you will engage in the arts and science. Finally, try to make it as visible and accessible as possible, try not to put in rooms so everyone can see your Fun Palace and join in.
Karen Leach-Bowdler

Northfield Arts Forum – Birmingham
Northfield ward is amongst the 10% most deprived constituencies in England, with over half working adults earning less than the living wage. Across the area there is very little open public space for positive social interaction beyond pre-existing defined groups or shops. Fun Palaces give us an opportunity to reclaim and throw open the doors of buildings that people either don’t think is for them or even just don’t know they’re there and say yes, this is your space. This space, down the road from you, is one of many across the UK doing awesome things, and is part of a national celebration. It’s worth celebrating.
This year we upped sticks to Weoley Castle, a more isolated area, to work with new partners and build new relationships. We worked with co-creaters as young as 7 to shape something that hopefully reflected not what we thought people wanted, but actually did (though our budget couldn’t quite cover a real lava pit).
Doing a Fun Palace makes us reconsider that – to offer and learn rather than just provide. It gives us the chance to have fun, to play and learn and be proud of what our area is and can be.
Lauren Jansen-Parkes

Morden Hall Park – National Trust
Our Fun Palace was championed by a group of local young people who pulled the event together and got the community involved in just 6 weeks. Because of this, the biggest thing I learnt was how powerful a group of passionate people can be and how much can be achieved in a short space of time when a community pulls together to achieve shared goal.
Hattie Clayton

Here East – London
We turned our corporate reception into one massive Fun Palace, full of interactive activities linked to music, electronics, gizmos and gadgets. Activities on the day were delivered by the School of Noise, Polyconic, Trispace, and Firetech Education.
Throughout the event, the room was packed children and adults, and we welcomed over 200 visitors on the day who explored the free activities that were on offer. We had a wonderful time talking to visitors and look forward to our Fun Palaces 2018.
Jasel Nandha

Farnham Fun Palace – Surrey
We make a Fun Palace in Farnham, Surrey. We are gardeners and tinkerers and crafters. We are singers and picture takers and campers. We are star gazers and fixers and creators. We are players and travellers and story tellers. We are families and friends and neighbours. Our Fun Palace is a mash experiment of shared knowledge and experiences and fun, and all these knowledge and experiences we give back to the community in the shape of new relations and new co-operations.
Speak to your neighbour, speak to your hairdresser, speak to your museum, speak to the people you disagree with, speak to absolutely everyone, you never know who will say yes.
Carine Osment