Connected Communities Festival 2014, Cardiff
As part of the Connected Communities Programme’s wider engagement activities, a Festival was held in Cardiff on Tuesday 1st July and Wednesday 2nd July 2014. The Festival included an open public event in The St David’s Hotel Conference Centre, Cardiff Bay. The festival aimed to provide researchers and community and other partners within the Programme with an opportunity to reflect, share learning and discuss their research with other participants within the programme and to reach out to, and engage with, researchers, communities and community organisations not currently involved in the Programme and to enhance the public profile of their research. The Festival’s role was similar to that of previous summits and showcases as the major open public outreach event for the Programme in 2014 as well as main large forum for networking across the whole Programme.
Rather than being aimed at an academic audience, the Showcase was focused on providing opportunities to further extend and deepen the Programme’s engagement with organisations, communities and individuals from outside the higher education sector. There were opportunities throughout to network with a wide range of researchers and community partners engaged in the Programme and to contribute to discussions about future plans for the Programme.
The Connected Communities Festival was free and open to the public; it was comprised of a mix of performances, exhibition stands, talks, music events, bazaars, workshops, film screenings, games, discussions, walks, digital activities, and pop-up events.
At the Festival you could:
- Be an archaeologist for the day, get your hands muddy and uncover artefacts in a trench
- Take a shuttle bus from St. David’s Hotel, Cardiff Bay to the open archaeological site at the Caerau Iron Age hill fort and hear from the researchers about the things they uncovered
- Listen to the National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke at a poetry reading
- Bring along your World War One memorabilia – medals, photos, letters, coins, antiques, maps, clothing, jewellery, publications and anything else associated with the First World War. Academic experts were on hand to explain their context and significance and CultureNet Cymru digitised the objects and artefacts
- Join a procession of banners celebrating the industrial history of Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and South Wales
- Go to a pop up Community News Café hosted by community journalists, where debates and discussions took place
- Attend a free gig to celebrate the DIY music scene in South Wales and the South West
For us in the Co-Creating Care project it was time, coming as it did, to reflect on the trajectory, aims, and outcomes of the project; where we’ve been, what we’ve achieved, and what we would like to do next. Therefore we had to think quite hard about the design of our stand. We wanted in particular to make sure that the different elements, and particularly the different groups of community participants, were represented and included. We put an invitation out to people from the Poly, Falmouth embroiderers, Birmingham, and Dublin groups, with great responses, and decided to have those attending actually demonstrating what they’d been doing. So Marie and Norah from the Dublin crafters did block printing, Jo from the Poly group rag rugging, Irene and Hannah from Falmouth embroidering; we had Shane Waltener giving a talk on Making by Instruction, Deirdre talking about the groups linked to Craftspace, and Christiane from the Poly was there to give a workshop on the Thursday to other researchers in the Connected Communities groups. We showed Bryony’s films as well. The best times were when people from the community in Cardiff came to the stand; they could take part in the crafts and talk about how they felt about the activities. I think we clearly showed what we had done, and the benefits of it.
Looking to the future, by the end of the project, one of the things emerging from the research was some feedback that had started to point to certain health benefits arising from the craft activities we’d been doing. We’d discussed this in the Arts For Health Beyond the Toolkit symposium in February, and Sarah Corbett of Craftivist Collective had decided to build a campaign around getting recognition for the health benefits of crafting. So in addition to the activities Co-Creating Care had been doing during the project, Sarah launched Craftivist Garden #wellMAKING, a nationwide activist project run in collaboration with Falmouth University, Arts for Health Cornwall and VAW to demonstrate the wellbeing benefits of creative-making. TV presenter Kirsty Wark has already agreed to be a wellMAKING Champion helping us to promote the project. The Well-Making Craftivists garden will show how craft activities can help improve wellbeing by involving participants in the fun, connected, sensory and mindful process of making things – in this case, flowers for a collaborative garden (which itself represents society) – and in taking time to deeply think about wellbeing. There’s also an app to collect answers to the questions which will be presented to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Arts & Health in January 2015, to provide evidence of the power craft has to improve our society. Read more about the project here.
In addition to all this, we had an off-site activity in the programme. Daniel Carpenter, our advisor from Voluntary Arts, organised a performance, Killing Time, by composer/musician Jobina Tinnemans. Working with an ensemble of conventional musicians and local knitters in Cardiff, Jobina staged and performed her award winning composition about the music of knitting, which was originally developed with the Fishguard Art Society and commissioned by the MATA festival in New York. Jobina, who lives on the Pembrokeshire coast, often works with non-musicians such as knitters whose activities create a particular sound/rhythm. In the gorgeous setting of the Norwegian Church Arts Centre, this was a fascinating piece performed on the Wednesday and Thursday. Shane was expecting only to visit to hear the performance but was asked to knit at the last moment – he carried the request off with aplomb!