Tributes paid to volunteers who ‘made things happen’ at the National Festival of Making

Published Sunday 30 July 2023 at 19:25

The Mayor and Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council both joined crowds at Blackburn Library on 19 July in a celebration of almost 100 volunteers who helped ensure the recent success of Blackburn’s fifth National Festival of Making, and its first as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

The multi award-winning Festival – which attracted national visitors and worked with 80 participating artists and makers across 24 venues – took place over the weekend of 8th and 9th July.

This year’s festival was the biggest yet. Festival bosses spoke of record crowds in attendance as the unique manufacturing heritage and contemporary characteristics of the town and region were celebrated with a whole host of cultural experiences, including pottery workshops, virtual reality adventures, live music and performances, markets, film screenings, talks and much, much more.

Addressing gathered volunteers at the library, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, Councillor Phil Riley said:

Our consistent decision over the past half a decade to fund arts projects and build culture at the heart of everything we do in Blackburn with Darwen – and our fruitful relationship with Arts Council England – is being rewarded by recognition of our place firmly on the arts and culture landscape of the UK.

The festival really has been a wonderful success and underpinning that success has been the tremendous efforts of the army of volunteers who have provided assistance, warm humour and an even warmer welcome.

The commitment, passion and energy of the volunteers has attracted positive comment from both local and national partners, and you – the volunteers – are an integral part of our success. You made things happen. Thank you so much.

The Mayor of Blackburn, Cllr Parwaiz Ahktar, then took to the stage to offer his thanks to everyone who made the Festival possible:

It’s important to thank the people behind this magnificent event: the National Festival of Making team, the Council staff who helped organise such a fantastic experience and last, but not least, every single one of the volunteers who made it happen.

You carried out amazing work throughout the weekend. It’s not just the arts and crafts, the reinvention of the ordinary, the wonders of technology and the dancing and music that make this festival – it’s all of you, come rain or shine, helping our many visitors to find their way round; supporting your fellow volunteers and sharing your love for the arts with a big smile on your face that makes this festival what it is. And you’ve undoubtedly proven that again this year.

The Festival of Making is curated, produced and delivered by the not-for-profit Festival of Making Community Interest Company (CIC).

Lauren Zawadzki, Director at Festival of Making CIC, said:

The National Festival of Making celebrated its fifth edition this year, and our first as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). We wouldn’t be able to deliver our programme without the support of our incredible group of volunteers who helped make this year’s festival our biggest yet. We are incredibly proud of our volunteering programme and the relationships we are building with volunteers, some who are new for the first time this year and some who have been with us since the first festival in 2017. I’d also like to thank Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council who once again were incredibly supportive in bringing our volunteer community together.

Stuart Parker, Volunteer Coordinator at Director at Festival of Making CIC, added:

The National Festival of Making is a landmark cultural festival in Lancashire and to see so many people of all ages from across Blackburn give up their time to volunteer and help make it happen was inspiring. We couldn’t have done it without them and each and every volunteer was a fantastic ambassador for the festival and should be incredibly proud of what they achieved. We hope they’ll all return next year!

FoM Volunteers

It is estimated that the festival brings in around £1m to the local economy and last year it was awarded the prestigious Arts Council England NPO status.

This made it one of four new NPOs in Blackburn – alongside Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, The British Textile Biennial and Culturapedia – which secured an additional £2m for arts and culture in the borough over the next three years.

The festival organisers extended their thanks to the Festival Chair, artist Jamie Holman, their Board of Directors and to their funders and supporters, including:

  • Blackburn with Darwen Council
  • Arts Council England
  • The Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund
  • Brian Mercer Trust
  • Creative Lancashire
  • The Calico Group
  • Lancashire Enterprise Partnership
  • Blackburn BID
  • Blackburn College
  • The Mall
  • British Textile Biennial

Find out more about the National Festival of Making at:

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