This weekend 280 Fun Palaces will pop up across the country and globally as revelers of all descriptions immerse themselves in culture from indoor and outdoor activities to science lessons, art and plays.
Inspired by celebrated theatre director Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price’s never-built vision for a Fun Palace, Fun Palaces are events that bring together the arts, science and cultural skills of everyone in communities for others to enjoy. Fun Palaces are made by a variety of people, both those working in the cultural sector and those with no connections to the arts, and of all ages.
Often created on a shoestring budget, Fun Palaces range from large-scale venues such as Sheffield Theatres to tiny villages such as Clayton West. The event is expected to bring together around 150 partners including the Polka Theatre, Nottingham Castle, Clayton West village, ARC Stockton , Brockwell Lido, 10 libraries in Oldham, Candie Gardens in Guernsey and many more, in one of the most ambitious creative collaborations the UK has ever seen.
Initially conceived as a one-off weekend celebration for Joan Littlewood’s centenary, Fun Palaces is now a year-round campaign championing arts and science culture at the heart of communities, culminating in an annual weekend celebration each October. Since its first weekend in 2014, hundreds of Fun Palaces have been created by over 5,000 Fun Palace organisers, in 11 nations, with 90,000 people taking part.
Fun Palaces is the brainchild of celebrated author Stella Duffy who was recently made an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for services to the arts, and established arts producer Sarah-Jane Rawlings.
“It’s amazing to think that in just three years, a one-off celebration of theatre director Joan Littlewood’s centenary has become an ongoing campaign for culture at the heart of community with an annual weekend of arts and sciences events,” she director Duffy. “At a time of uncertainty, of division and unrest, the cultural sector has a duty to enable dialogue, reflection, and engagement – Fun Palaces not only helps communities to do this, but encourages them to do it for themselves.”
Fun Palaces is now marked out as an event in the national calendar that encourages community cohesion: in 2015 80% of Fun Palaces participants said they felt part of their community at their Fun Palace and 84% felt motivated to do more creative things in future; 85% of Fun Palace organisers said they felt connected to their community and 64% said it revealed resources they did not know were in their communities.