Fun Palaces Workshop

Contributed by Alice Litchfield on 10.05.2016

An Article written about a Fun Palaces Workshop in Manchester Museum. Written by Alice Litchfield

On Saturday afternoon Manchester Museum became home to a Fun Palaces workshop. This workshop was designed for anyone interested in setting up their own Fun Palace and gave details on how to complete one and why you should do it.

What is a fun palace? Well it is up to the creator. It is a campaign for culture through art and science and is for the whole community you live in. They believe everyone is a scientist, everyone is an artist. Their whole ethos involves it being a free event available for everyone in the community taking a bottom-up approach and creating a cohesion of different community groups. Last year 142 fun palaces were held with 2000 makers and over 50,000 people taking part. The most common spaces these events were held in were art galleries, theatres and libraries, however smaller events took place in public spaces such as parks or outdoor swimming pools. The events will be held on the first weekend in October up and down the country.

The afternoon was an interesting and engaging experience run by two passionate and friendly women, Sarah-Jane Rawings and Kirsty Lothian, encouraging others to create their own fun palace. There was a range of attendees from people who has previously run a fun palace, others looking to run one, to people working in a range of businesses including The Lowry at Salford Quays. The session was interactive and social allowing people to share and create ideas to then bring into their own community. One of the first activities was writing down anything that you wanted to be able to do or learn, this got a mixed response including learning to play the drums and learning to knit. From searching the room it was discovered that both of those could be achieved through the connections people already had. It was a good way to get ideas about what people enjoy and how people could go about creating these into a fun palace.

The next activity included using sheets of paper to write down any ideas at all about a fun palace ranging from the practical logistical side of things such as insurance to ideas about who could be included in one. There were also prompt cards if necessary to get ideas going. We were split into several tables and after a certain amount of time we moved along to other tables with one person ‘the host’ staying to explain our ideas to the next group. This meant there was a wide variety of ideas shared and many people took away useful information regarding their fun palace they want to create. Manchester: A Certain Future’s role within this session was encouraging people to think about the sustainability of their workshop. Looking at their carbon footprint and using locally sourced products such as food and materials was considered to make sure their event was low carbon. This made people think about the impact of their event and how they could incorporate sustainability into their fun palace.

The final closing session ended with further questions and making sure everything was in place so people had the means to create a fun palace. It was a useful way for people to get final questions answered. Everyone was engaged and interested and asked plenty of questions, it was also brought up how nice an event it was to be able to meet others with similar interests within the city.

Overall the event was a success and people are looking forward to creating their own fun palaces for October. Fun Palaces is about people coming together for a free and local event encompassing art and science. From watching their video, it shows fun palaces from previous years events where everyone is enthusiastic and willing to learn whilst there. There were a range of events going on for all different ages and for the whole community. Their message is not to create something for an audience but to create something for a participant, everyone needs to get involved and have hands on practical workshops. The event on Saturday was a good success with everyone going away feeling they are able to create a fun palace. All relevant information was covered in a relaxed, informal and interactive session. We look forward to hearing about the workshops that occur across Greater Manchester.

For more information about Fun Palaces, visit