I just dropped off some Fun Palaces posters for Brockwell Lido Fun Palace. I haven’t attended any of their meetings, partly because it’s my local FP and it’s important it feels it belongs to the locals, not the national FPs – and partly because my Mrs, Shelley Silas, convened it, and for the sake of our marriage it’s probably vital she doesn’t feel like I’m telling her what to do with their FP!
But I have to say what a thrill it was to see such a big group, mixed races, mixed ages, mixed genders, mixed sexualities – all there to make a LOCAL Fun Palace, for THEIR community. All volunteering, all doing it because they believe in the idea and want to be part of a national event that shouts about the value of cultural participation for all.
There are moments (usually at about 3am) when I get completely terrified that it will all be a damp squib and these 20 months of solid work will turn out to be for nothing. And then I meet the actual Fun Palaces makers, as we did on our national mini-roadshow meeting local makers in July, as we did at OvalHouse last week meeting makers from London, Whitstable, Glasgow, and I remember who and what it’s for. It’s for the people who turn out on a grey and damp Monday night, after a full day’s work, to do more – to share arts and sciences with all, to engage and participate and enjoy whether they’re ‘expert’ or not, to truly create the democratisation of ‘culture’. To say that culture belongs to all of us, and it belongs in our swimming pools and cafés just as much as it does in our big shiny venues.
Huge huge yay for the people.
Joan Littlewood said she believed in the genius in every person. What we’re finding with Fun Palaces is that everyone really is an artist, everyone a scientist. We just need to give them opportunities to make their mark.
Because when we say yes please to the people, when we honestly and truly invite them to make, to create, when we let them make it theirs … this happens :