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Can a workshop really help you create a festival? Of course not! It took us virtually the time it takes a baby to be conceived to plan the Transeuropa Festival embracing the “open air innovation” in more ways than one.But there are ways you can use an hour to get people to start prototyping the design of a festival.
Value feeling as well as need: collect emotional/sensory data and take it as seriously as facts &  figuresThe participants of the workshop each represented one of the cities of the festival and had been involved in developing the Network that was responsible for it. So I knew there were common bonds between them (this is just what we can see and feel, but maybe we should have an emotional mapping exercise of the network?) – both on the issues they were interested in, the activities they found exciting and the personal relationships they had built between each other.Uncover the unseen: reveal underlying issues and topics

Because we had been coming together as the Network to think more strategically about the themes that connected the festivals in each city together and then bringing that back to our city groups for the specifics, there hadn’t been time to learn on “how” the activities in each city were developed outside of the themes we were working on. So there was a genuine desire for people to celebrate and learn from each other’s stories of how these activities had been created.

Authentic advocacy: give people the opportunity to be heard & tell their story

With over 200 activities organised for the festival, it was going to be difficult for people to tell the story of each one and we didnt’ know who would be interested in which activity (neither did they!), so we needed to look at how people could share these stories in just under an hour in a way that people not at the workshop could also learn.

The workshop was framed around ““what kind of events to run as part of the festival?”” for next year, so as well as learning what had worked well, we still needed to start the process of exploring what type of events we could run for next year’s festival.

Remembering that whereas last year, the process of co-production was very much focused on the volunteers (us!) from the previous festival, this year, we have now become a Cooperative, so we need to experiment how to work together across different cities and not just within our cities.

So I designed a game whereby I created the following typologies of the activites we had organised in this year’s festival:
  • What principles do you want to adopt?
  • How do you want to involve people taking part in the activities?
  • How do you want to develop the activity?
  • How do you want to involve your partners?
  • What type of activity do you want to organise?
  • Where do you want to organise the activity?
Each type of activity was categorised based on the level of resources required to make it happen. You needed to spend one point for those activities circled in red, two for those in purple and three for those in orange. Each person had a budget of 25 points.Stimulate new ideas and behaviours: encourage deeper interaction with spacesAs you were selecting your chosen types of activity, you chose a poster of a public space (see the presentation) and placed the cards on it. This wasn’t just an aesthetic touch, it was to give people a visual idea of how those activities could play out in that physical environment.

The public spaces we chose were primarily the different types of space used in the last festival but also included some that weren’t that have been in the spotlight recently, such as Tahrir Square and Plaza del Campo.

Design empathetic spaces: what conditions would encourage people to share and interact in the spaces they use everyday?

What was perhaps the most interesting is that as people were placing the activities on the public spaces, they suddenly saw connections between them, such as “getting people to produce a documentary” to create visuals and a discussion to “developing workshop techniques” for an “installation” all the way to organise a “performance” in a “forest and that when they came across a type of activity that another citygroup had developed, they asked them how they went about it.

A next step that we didn’t have time for was to create a a timeline to pinpoint what you are going to do over the course of planning your festival. And if we had more time, we would want to guide the first part of the session around getting you to work out the strategy for the festival and using the second session to work out how to deliver it. This would be really great for people to experience an accelerated simulation of a festival.

Where do you think the game could be used in other contexts? How would you improve the game? If you would like a workshop on how your group, network or organisation could develop its own festival, get in touch!