The air was filled with sunshine and music as artists from across Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire showcased their talents in Hanley Park’s first ParkLive! Music Trail.
The sun was shining. The atmosphere was electric and the park was bursting at the seams! When I left Sunday’s ParkLive event on Sunday I took a quick look around the park. I have never seen it so busy. There were people playing cricket. Others were playing tennis and some feeding the ducks. And dotted around the park were tens of wonderfully talented, local musicians who had come to Hanley Park on a Sunday afternoon to perform acoustically in front of who ever fancied turning up to listen to them. I had taken my family to listen to some of the artists and to support my fellow colleagues in the Creative Communities Unit, but I was blown away by how relaxed I felt after spending just a couple of hours there and at the talent we have just on our doorstep.
It is sometimes easy to get down about the current economic state and living in an economically deprived area. But seeing how local communities, businesses and artists supported the event on Sunday makes me proud to live here. However, key to the success of ParkLive was the groundwork that went into its organisation and the strong networks between communities, artists, community workers and organisations. The event did not cost a great deal of money. Most people volunteered their time. However, I saw first hand how hard the two key organisers in the Creative Communities Unit worked to make the day a success. Penny and Judyta, with the support of the Friends of Hanley Park group worked tirelessly to make sure that the event was accessible, relaxed, informal yet efficiently organised and attractive. And this for me is the key to a good community based project. The idea can be fantastic and the individual people involved can be talented and highly skilled. But what a project needs is a passionate driving force behind it which is able to draw upon networks and relationships, be creative about what can be achieved and have a true belief in the abilities of the people involved. This is what makes people rise to the challenge and makes a project fly.
Yes, on Sunday the weather was fantastic, which may have helped. But I got a strong sense that the people there weren’t just there to sit in the sunshine. They were there to support local talent, a local park and bringing people together. I went along with my family, including my own parents and my mum and dad-in-law. All of them remarked that they were amazed at how beautiful the park looked and how we need to bring a picnic here in the Spring and Summer. I hope more of the people who came to Hanley Park on Sunday felt the same way and will revisit. Lets get outside and make the most of the lovely open spaces we are lucky enough to have just on our doorstep!
You can have a look at more photos and videos from the day by visiting the I Love Hanley Park Facebook Page.
Creative Communities Unit