Culture

Summer of Stories

Illustration of a lion and rabbit

Buckinghamshire’s ‘Summer of Stories’ is well and truly underway – but there’s still time for you to get involved!

This summer, Buckinghamshire Culture and Buckinghamshire Council have been working together to create a Summer of Stories, focusing on a theme of ‘stories of happiness’. The ‘Story Stall’ is part of this multi-stranded project aiming to engage people across Buckinghamshire with stories and creativity.  Inspired by our strong literary heritage this project will result in animation of town centres, activity supporting wellbeing, enhancing quality of life and maintaining connection as part of wider Covid recovery.  Residents of Buckinghamshire have been invited to share and celebrate their personal stories, and those of the county itself, through conversations with artists, or via ‘Story Postcards’ at artist-led pop-up stalls across the county in markets and local high streets and at various cultural and library locations.

These stalls have been present at various events throughout the summer, starting with Whizzfizzfest on the 26th June and moving around the county since then, engaging with lots of different people from the local community – and the stories told have been just as diverse as the people telling them!

One resident recounted a tale of a man who had turned an old mattress into a paddle board and was happily rowing himself down the canal, whilst another resident reflected on the fact that the pandemic had meant he was able to get out every morning to take his dog for a walk, enjoying the local parks around the county, and being able to make it home for dinner with his 12 year old son every evening – something he had never been able to do before then.

Other recurring themes within people’s stories of happiness and tales of Buckinghamshire included a love for the red kites that circle our skies, for woodlands and parks and the canal in Aylesbury.

When summer fades, these local stories will not be forgotten; the artists who collected them will create a pop-up storytelling structure that will visit town centres around Buckinghamshire in the early Autumn – sharing a collective story of the county.

It’s not too late to get involved with the Summer of Stories! If you would like to get involved and share a story of happiness, or a story of Buckinghamshire, you can find the final few pop-up stalls in the following locations:

  • Winslow Market on 25th August, 8:30am-2pm
  • Live in the Park, Aqua Vale Park, Aylesbury on 28th August, 9am-5:30pm
  • Black Park, Wexham on 29th August, 10am-4pm
  • Beaconsfield Country Fair, Beaconsfield on 30th August, 9:30am-5pm
Story Stall setup at Hgh Wtcombe Market

Or pick up a postcard from one of our participating libraries or cultural organisations.  There is the option to submit a story on our website, or find out more on social media using #SummerofStories.

Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Clive Harriss, said:

“The Summer of Stories has been a great way of engaging with the wider community and encouraging people to come together and share good news during what has been a difficult 18 months. I’m sure the artists have heard plenty of heart-warming stories about Buckinghamshire and it’s residents, and I look forward to seeing the final structure created by the artists in the Autumn!”

For more information about the Summer of Stories, visit: www.buckinghamshireculture.org/Summer-of-Stories

This programme is supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and funding from Buckinghamshire Council, Heart of Bucks and Rothschild Foundation. 

Culture

Thinking Digital – online skill sharing event

Buckinghamshire Culture, Garsington Opera and Resource Productions are pleased to present an online event for the creative and cultural sector sharing digital adaptations and innovative virtual delivery skills and tips.

Thinking Digital is free and will take place on 11th February from 1pm – full details and booking here: www.thinkingdigitalbucks.eventbrite.co.uk 

During the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen creative and cultural organisations innovate, re-frame and develop online content thanks to rapid learning and adaptation.  To support those coming back to work, or looking for new ideas for engagement, Buckinghamshire Culture, in partnership with Garsington Opera and Resource Productions, have worked together to develop this online workshop. 

This event will focus on digital engagement and will share learning and top tips, as well as first-hand experiences of those delivering online. We aim to take away some of the fear of delivering online for the first time and share tips for those that have some experience already. There will be a creative, participatory element to the session when the group is invited to devise a new Chorus with Garsington Opera’s Richard Taylor and Karen Gillingham, so you can experience online creative engagement first hand and be inspired to try your own version. We will finish with a Q&A and brief panel discussion of what further advice, input, sharing or support attendees would like to see next.

We have curated a programme of speakers from Buckinghamshire and beyond covering a range of topics:

  • Adapting and pivoting activities for online engagement
  • Sharing tips for use of digital tools such as Zoom, Whatsapp, Youtube, Google classroom etc
  • Engaging vulnerable people online
  • Supporting those with multiple needs or limited experience to engage online
  • Skills and performance tips for online delivery
  • Working inclusively online
  • Opening doors to collections and resources using virtual access
  • Increasing certain audiences who might prefer online engagement
  • Working with artists and practitioners in a digital space
  • Tips for successful online engagement.

This event has been funded by Rothschild Foundation.

Culture

Buckinghamshire community encouraged to share lockdown stories

To connect residents across Buckinghamshire during these challenging times, the University of Buckingham and Buckinghamshire Culture have teamed up to create ‘Lockdown Stories’ – a website where county residents can share their thoughts and experiences. 

‘Lockdown Stories’ is designed to help individuals tell their story, explore their creativity and build connections. Stories are posted online at Buckingham.news and shared on social media using the hashtag #lockdownstories.

Submissions so far have included, a poem from the Bard of Buckingham, Dean Jones, a comical left-field view of isolation, an example of how you can create a happy moods board and a virtual walk. Others have chosen to film activities such as reading their favourite poems or share the world from their dog’s perspective. There’s also the collaborative story, ‘Beginnings’, which encourages readers to write the next chapter themselves before letting the next person continue the tale.

The intention is to celebrate the power of stories and storytelling as ways to escape and relax, fire imaginations, make sense of the world, pass on information and traditions, share experiences, feel accepted and valued, and make new connections.

This micro-project is part of much bigger plans to develop a Storytelling Festival for Buckinghamshire as part of the Buckinghamshire Cultural Strategy. Storytelling is a theme that has long been associated with the area with several literary events already taking place in Buckinghamshire, including the Buckingham Literary Festival and WhizzfizzFest, Working with these events, Buckinghamshire Culture is planning to create a Storytelling Festival for 2022 that embraces the whole county.

The Storytelling Festival will explore storytelling in all its forms, and will include different types of arts and creative opportunities for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to experience, share and participate in stories and storytelling. The festival had originally been planned for 2021, however due to the pandemic the decision was taken to delay the first event.

Julius Weinberg, Buckinghamshire Culture Co-Chair said: ‘We are sad that our plans to develop a Festival have had to be delayed due to Covid-19, but we are really excited to work with the University of Buckingham to offer this opportunity to connect people online through creativity and stories – we cannot wait to see what people create’

Roger Perkins, Head of Journalism at the University of Buckingham adds, ‘Lockdown Stories offers a chance for each of us to show some solidarity with each other at a particularly difficult time. It’s the perfect expression of citizen journalism in the breadth of its coverage. It’ll also provide a record of what we were doing and how we were feeling for future generations.’ 

If you would like to submit your story please email Camilla.zingari@buckingham.ac.uk.  Stories can be submitted as video, film, voice recording, images, text (please note: stories must be suitable for audiences of all ages).  If you need some prompts to fire your imagination and creativity, your story might be inspired by: seeing something or someone in a new light, an unexpected ‘silver lining’ from your isolation, or an old memory or story given a new life.