FestivALL 2020 has been about celebrating the power of our communities and how warm and welcoming Gloucestershire can be. Although going out and doing things wasn’t an option, the FestivALL team created lots of exciting online events to get people connecting across the county.
To celebrate this theme of making connections, FestivALLers were invited to make colourful paperchains with each link symbolising the connections they have made over lockdown. The festival launched with a communal chain making session – online of course – with people not stopping at paper to make chains but also using wool and other materials. FestivALL team member Megan was interviewed for BBC Radio Gloucestershire, chatting to Anna King and reminding her that paperchains are not just for Christmas! Fortunately, Megan didn’t mention the chain she attempted to make out of cooked spaghetti. Apparently, the links were too slippery to photograph!
We then eased into the celebrations a few days later with an online quiz. The small group of intrepid players, joined as teams across houses on zoom, showing that it is possible to create quality connections as they worked together to win points.
In FestivALL week 2, we launched the great Gloucestershire paperchain competition. Anyone who sent in a picture of their chain – paper or otherwise – was entered into a prize drawer. The result is still to be announced, so watch this space.
On 15 July, Megan led a creative writing workshop to get the words flowing and allow FestivALL goers to explore the theme of community and connection through words. The group produced a range of poignant, well-written poetry that may make its way onto a paperchain or two.
After this thought-provoking session, it was time to have some fun with laughter yoga. There’s nothing like a good giggle to remind us of how connected we are; a big thanks to Vibrant Kate for brightening up our Monday morning! By now the paperchains were coming in thick and fast with family creations and shop window displays brightening up the county.
All this crafting talent was brought to the fore in a workshop held on 30 July. Sarah Corbett delivered a presentation on craftivism which had attendees embroiled in lively discussion about how craft can be used as a form of gentle, peaceful protest.
However, FestivALL’s main event was run by Florence Nyasamo-Thomas, the festival’s creator in 2017. She chaired a panel of 9 participants which included local activists, organisers of Cheltenham’s recent Black Lives Matter protest, and representatives of various charities and organisations across the county. Florence skilfully steered them through such topics as identity and integration. Check out Barnwood Trust’s Facebook page for a video of the discussion and you can find the panellists talking about their experiences on Anna King’s weekday shows for BBC Radio Gloucestershire. The event certainly lived up to its title of Amplifying Voices Together as it was inspiring and moved some to tears.
With its creativity, poignancy, laughter, and tears, FestivALL is over for another year. A lot was learnt about how we can come together online. FestivALL’s legacy continues in the form of online packs of financial and productive ways to support small groups in coming together for and connecting virtually. Check out FestivALL on social media to find out more.
Does this all sound exciting? If you would like to get involved and help run next year’s festival, contact Lucy Adam by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A big thank you to those who took part in the events and linking bright chains throughout Gloucestershire.