“It’s grassroots, it’s revolutionary and there is no right way for it to look”
BY AMIE TAYLOR
Fun Palaces is a campaign of cultural participation and a weekend of action and celebration. We have always said ‘Everyone an Artist, Everyone a Scientist’, but it’s more than that, it’s the start of a revolution, it’s an activist movement powered by anyone who wants to join in, and queer people have always played a huge role in the campaign. Stella Duffy, who founded the campaign in 2013 is a well-known LGBTQIA activist, writer and theatremaker and there have also been lots of LGBTQIA activists making Fun Palaces, myself included.
This year Queer Kernow in Cornwall is making a Fun Palace this Fun Palaces weekend (6-8 Oct). I spoke to Sophie Meyer (she/her), their director, about what running a Fun Palace means to them. She says that they’re running a Fun Palace to connect with their local community, but in addition to that, this weekend they’ll be asking people to creatively respond to the question “What would you put in a Queer Cornish Museum?” They want to create a community-led collection; the artistic responses they collect at their Fun Palace will be put up in a new pop-up museum and will also inform the future work around this.
I loved hearing this from Sophie, because Fun Palaces can, and certainly do shape the future for communities going forward. I remember when I made my own LGBTQIA Fun Palace at The Pleasance in London. Isaac, who was 18 at the time, led a workshop on “How to be an awesome LGBTQIA activist or an incredible ally”. I learnt so much in that workshop, and some of the principles Isaac taught us have gone on to shape my own activism today (Fun Palaces really do change the world!)
Communities are invited to make Fun Palaces on the weekend wherever they’re able (gardens, cafes, libraries, community centres…), sharing the skills, talents, arts and sciences that matter to them. As an organisation, we use our platform to spotlight all of the brilliant stuff happening in communities up and down the UK and beyond. To amplify the voices of communities that stand up and say “We are here, we have brilliant people and culture right on our doorsteps and we don’t need to wait around to be told that by someone else.”
The LGBTQIA community is facing a lot at the moment, hostility towards trans people from the government and media, Drag Queen Storytime protests, increased homophobic and transphobic attacks, and now the government backtracking on its promises to ban conversion therapy for all, to name just a few things. Fun and play within our communities are vital to our survival, and wellbeing and, I believe, can play a part in strengthening our activism – as I experienced at my Fun Palace.
As well as that, by being part of a Fun Palace we reframe who has something to offer, connect with others and really communicate. And yes, I truly believe that the revolution starts with a burlesque workshop – or geeking out about D and D – or decorating rainbow biscuits. Because it’s the revolution. It probably won’t look like we think it will!
If you want to join us – you can sign up for a Fun Palace for this weekend – it can be tiny, scrappy, ten minutes long, two people in a garden – crocheting, painting, googling photosynthesis, watching clouds or planning a revolution. That’s a Fun Palace. It’s grassroots, it’s revolutionary and there is no right way for it to look.
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