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Fun Palaces

Fun Palaces
Location(s) International
Inaugurated October 2014 (2014-10)
Most recent October 2015

Fun Palaces is an annual, free, nationwide celebration of arts and science. This takes place over the first weekend in October, the next one is due to take place on the 1 & 2 October 2016. Fun Palaces are very much a community event and are created by and for local people. They are held in a variety of locations, ranging from libraries, shopping centres, schools, parks, village squares, community halls, swimming pools, etc. Fun Palaces was the brainchild of celebrated theatre director Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price. The first took place in 2014, with 138 Fun Palaces taking place across the UK and internationally and in 2015 the number rose to 142.

Joan Littlewood and the architect Cedric Price came up with the idea of the fun palace back in 1961. It was their dream to create a space where people in the community could come together to celebrate arts, science and culture. Their original blueprint said:

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 to where you can see how other people make things work. Sit out over space with a drink and tune in to what's happening elsewhere in the city. Try starting a riot or beginning a painting – or just lie back and stare at the sky.

Inspiration for the idea came from traditional pleasure gardens and working men's institutes, which were very much for the community as a whole. They wanted to build a radical venue which was to be a "laboratory of fun" or a "university of the streets", where visitors could go along and enjoy performances, participate in arts and craft activities or just meet up and have fun. As a result, allowing culture, science and education to be available to people from all backgrounds.

The palace it was never built. Councils would not give the land, the permissions and the money just did not materialise. As such the Fun Palace became an unrealised dream. But all this changed in October 2014, the weekend before her centenary. On the 4 and 5 October, hundreds of fun palaces appeared across the UK and beyond. But instead of building new buildings, temporary 'pop-up' fun palaces, appeared in various venues and locations.

During the weekend, over 150 venues and companies enlisted along with independent artists, scientists and community events organisers

The Fun Palaces Manifesto for 2016 is:

We believe in the genius in everyone, in everyone an artist and everyone a scientist, and that creativity in community can change the world for the better. We believe we can do this together, locally, with radical fun – and that anyone, anywhere, can make a Fun Palace.



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