Fun Palace

Read in the Guardian of 19 February 2015:

The other conference I visited this weekend was ‘Flatpack Democracy Brighton’. They made me member of a forum. I told the audience about how to build local platforms of citizen-amateurs that can generate collective intelligence. Just when I was leaving the conference, Daniel Bernstein of The Synergy Centre told me my plan to erect a People’s Industry Palace in Amsterdam next year with the help of artists reminded him of Stella Duffy’s Fun Palaces initiative. Duffy is a British writer and theatre-maker. In the Guardian of 19 February 2015 she wrote about her Fun Palaces network: “At Fun Palaces we want to do away with the idea of excellence and experts altogether, especially around subsidy, and demand instead an excellence of engagement and participation.” All the Fun Palaces are local, embedded in their own communities. Artists are working with neighbours, local councillors and public buildings, to make great, inclusive work – and making it locally. “There’s a real joy in contributing to our communities, right where we are.” In 2014 more than 3.000 people across the UK signed up to make local Fun Palaces.

Just that morning Jenni had showed me the Royal Pavilion of the Prince Regent, which she had called a ‘party palace’. Striking. Back home I read new writings of Duffy in the Guardian. She announced that on 3 and 4 October in more than 130 locations across the UK locally led, community-driven, arts and sciences events will take place. Instead of new buildings, these cultural events will be focused on people. “Bricks and mortar will never replace dialogue.” Joan Littlewood and Cedric Price had inspired her. In 1961 these two architects had made designs for a venue where you could “choose what you want to do or watch someone else doing it. Learn how to handle tools, paint, babies, machinery, or just listen to your favourite tune. Dance, talk or be lifted up …. sit out over space with a drink and tune in to what’s happening.” While reading the text, I could only think of ‘Volksvlijt’. By choosing the new public library in Amsterdam as a pop-up People’s Industry Palace we are aiming exactly the same: truly welcoming everyone to participate in the cultural and economic life of the city. And yes, “those running our buildings might have to give up a little control for it to work.”





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