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Our Big Gig at Lincoln Arboretum

26th July 2013

Our Big Gig weekend saw community music festivals take place across the entire country with the aim of bringing local people together, and the event held at Lincoln Arboretum was a true testament to this objective.

Our Big Gig at the Lincoln Arboretum was organised by local residents of the Abbey Ward neighbourhood who were connected through the area’s Community Organiser Maaike Veenkamp.

The idea to hold a Big Gig at the Arboretum was born from a young person being given the opportunity to express her views on where she lives.

Fifteen year old Eleni Taylor attended a meeting of residents who were interested in taking action to improve their local community.  During the meeting it was suggested to Eleni that she was only there because her mother “dragged her along” and – after nodding and her mother agreeing – everyone laughed.  Eleni sat silently throughout the majority of the meeting; however, when given the chance to speak her mind, mentioned that more things for people her age were needed in the area and highlighted her keen interest in using music to achieve this.

Eleni went away from the meeting and together with her close friend and fellow music enthusiast Sophie Fleming, began to discuss and investigate how they could make this happen, resulting in the notion of a music festival forming.

Sophie and Eleni started by speaking to various pupils and teachers at their school who expressed a keen interest to support this event and very soon a plausible vision began to develop.

Meanwhile, Maaike listened to more residents, and some of them also felt that the Arboretum – while a beautiful feature of Abbey Ward – was not used positively enough.  With Maaike’s support, gradually a group willing to take action was formed.  Together, the residents worked hard to plan and organise the Big Gig, joining forces with local music organisation soundLINCS.

soundLINCS successfully gained funding from Superact, the charity responsible for supporting all the events around the country, to support the Big Gig and offered valuable advice and resources to help with running a live music event.

After many meetings, the residents’ action points gradually began to reduce, until The Big Gig weekend was upon them.

Community organiser Alice Carter (right), with volunteers during the Big Gig.

Our Big Gig in the Arboretum took place on Sunday 14th July and was a resounding success; over 500 people attended the event and were able to witness an array of local musical talent perform in beautiful summer weather.

Supported by organisers Maaike and Alice Carter, Eleni, Sophie, and all the other local residents involved played a crucial part in running the event on the day, taking on roles such as setting up stalls and equipment, running music workshops, marshalling, litter picking, and hosting the event on stage.

It was an amazing event. Over 500 people were there, taking part in music workshops, litter picking, giant bubble making, and other activities, plus live music from the park’s bandstand, refreshments, and stalls!
Elizabeth Fish, local resident

Organiser Alice Carter recalls how the Big Gig was nearly jeopardised after the generator required for sound equipment failed. “It looked like a disaster, but in true community spirit, a local resident simply known as Carl stepped up from the gathered crowds and kindly offered his own generator for the day! This generous act truly emphasising the community feel Our Big Gig in the Arboretum had. The crowd cheered as Carl’s generator saved the day!”

The residents involved in Our Big Gig in the Arboretum now hope the event can become a regular feature of the Abbey Ward area and that its success in bringing large numbers of local people together to appreciate each other, local music and their wider community can continue.

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