Hi-bred Community Music Event

Alex Groszek

Overall the project was a success. There were at one point 50 people in the crowd, four bands played as well as all the supporting acts.

The event was multicultural, we had an Indian act as well as a bass player with African roots and the volunteers involved were from the local Asian community. The DJ played world music in between the acts. A group of 10 + people from the Crisis Skylight homeless centre attended the event.

The event also ran alongside the local council Shape bus initiative run by Warren Craik from the council, involving the presence of a colourful bus equipped with DJ decks to engage young people in musical activity in Leazes Park.   All the Hi-bred bands reported back saying they were interested in playing again.

The biggest challenge was in actually involving people from disadvantaged backgrounds and training them. There are potential risks and special procedures involved in working with disadvantaged people that are part of an organisation (such as those who have been through the experience of homelessness).  Planning well in advance is needed to involve these people in an event, so all documentation such as risk assessments and procedures can be prepared with the supporting organisation.

The organisation process itself was a positive learning experience. I prepared the Event Manual according to the council’s event guide on their website, over the course of a few weeks. I was  supported by the Park Keeper and a member of staff  from the events department at the council and was in continuous communication with them.  I learnt about the way a public outdoor event is put together, about all the different staff involved in reviewing the event and giving permission for it to take place, about the legal procedures to be applied and about community needs during such an event.

It was a great help to meet with the ncl+ Foundation committee as I felt I had some support in the greater scheme of things and was able to communicate my ideas across the board, which involved people from various areas of the University.

On the day, I realised that it is important to have some volunteers helping in the days before the event and on the morning of the event if all is to be in place and things such as final documentation, food and design taken care of.

The timing was a problem due to the accumulation of events on that day: the day before the Great North Run, a Newcastle United football match at home and the start of Freshers' Week. All this resulted in very high traffic levels outside the park. As a result some bands found themselves stuck in jams.

I think there is great potential for the bandstand as a future venue for community music and performing events.  The key is getting the marketing right, obtaining enough funding in advance and finding a process of running it that would make it truly sustainable and a means of developing the community.