On a brilliantly sunny 7th July 2018, The Big Vista festival came together in Hull’s Pearson Park. I spent most of the day in Artlink’s tent where we delivered four art activities of different kinds with some of our freelance artists and staff. These ranged from creating moveable paintings to carnival mask making to origami. Nearly 400 people came through our tent that afternoon, producing some vibrant creations and having a lot of fun.
That was only part of The Big Vista though. When we had the time it was great to pop out and experience the live music on the main stage, dance performances, storytelling, drumming workshops, carnival processions, spoken word and much more. All by artists local to Hull and the Humber and designed to be as accessible to as wide a range of the community as possible. Several of the artists and performers in The Big Vista also identified as disabled. Our experienced event manager, HPSS, estimated that over 6,000 people came down to the event between 1 – 7pm, this despite England’s crucial match against Sweden being that afternoon!
Bringing all this together had taken some time. We’d first started talking about the event back in mid-2017. The Big Vista was a new festival, which grew out two predecessors. The Vista mini street festival on Princes Avenue, which had run biannually for several years organised by several partners including Artlink, and The Big Gig, a large scale event in 2017 organised by Hull Red in Pearson Park. Hull Red had been established as a voluntary organisation 12 years ago to run club nights and gigs for adults with learning disabilities and their friends. This had then grown into having larger festival events as well.
The Vista partners, Artlink along with Union Mash Up, Church on the Way and Princes Avenue Methodist Church, were considering how to refresh the street festival and possibly move the event to Pearson Park, when we were introduced to Hull Red by a member of Hull City Council staff. We realised there was a shared ethos around community, accessibility, promoting local artists and bringing this together in a large scale event and so The Big Vista was born. The Council and the Pearson Park Trust also became major partners as well as event specialist HPSS, who made sure everything ran smoothly and safely. Organised by a steering group of partners on a not-for-profit basis, the festival slowly began to take shape and the group worked on everything from fundraising and booking artists to hiring marquees and organising volunteers.
Given the shared ethos around ensuring access and creating opportunities for disabled people, especially between Hull Red and Artlink, we were pleased that 34% of the groups in our festival survey included at least one disabled person. In addition, we think we met our aim of making The Big Vista family family, with 64% of groups surveyed including at least one child. We also wanted to bring together communities from all sides of Pearson Park at the event and our postcode survey revealed we did well on this, but also attracted visitors from further afield including Leeds and York.
The Big Vista was the first time we’d all worked together as partners. Everything came together on a great day that made all the effort worthwhile. We hope to work together on similar events in future, so watch this space.
Photography by Jamie King