On Sunday 7 August we held our second and annual festival at Roundspring Farm in Rickmansworth. This sell out event brought 500 people with and without learning disabilities together to experience wonder, magic, laughter, togetherness, friendship, music and joy.
50 adults with learning disabilities shared the stage with 30 professional musicians and performed alongside one another for six hours, captivating the audience with so much joy. It was a true celebration of learning disabilities and togetherness.
The performances were a culmination of weekly sessions and workshops that we led in the run up to the festival. Miles Riley, who has been a member of Electric Umbrella and attending weekly sessions for a year told us, “I am so happy. I’ve had the best time of my life on that stage and it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”
The performances took places under our huge inflatable yellow stage that we crowd funded in just six days! We are blown away by the community that has built around us making things like this possible. Additionally the event raised a staggering amount of money. This will be used to subsidise the next season of Electric Umbrella.
Kirsty Crawford, a professional musician who took part in the event said, “I’ve been a part of something really special that culminated in a festival of music and joy with Electric Umbrella on Sunday with some of the most joy-inspiring people I know. This event had whole families coming together for 6 hours to dance and make music and made parents, of those with the stigma of learning disabilities, see their child/brother/sister get involved in something that truly moved & engaged them, made them feel included and utilised their talents to make the most wonderful sound I’ve ever heard.”
As well as featuring live music from our members and guest artists, our event featured a BBQ, licensed bar, ice creams, face-painting, circus skills and more. We also provided portable changing facilities by making use of Watford Mencap’s MIGLOO. This enabled many people to attend the event that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.
Over 80 people volunteered their time to make this event the success that it was enabling us to raise vital funds to ensure the sustainability of Electric Umbrella. We are blown away by this support.
Grace Simmons who volunteers at our weekly sessions also help out hugely at Umbrellafest, “I have never been involved with something as wonderful as this, I honestly don’t think I could ever top it.”
We are incredibly lucky to supported by so many incredibly talented peopled can’t wait to do it all again next year!
The inaugural Umbrellafest took place on Thursday 6 August, 2015.
This incredible evening was the culmination of a wondrous week of workshops led by some exceptional practitioners and bustling with all kinds of musical experiences; much like our regular weekly sessions but on a much larger scale!
The finale, was attended by 300 people, and has been brilliantly captured by Wendy Grant.
A selection of her images below give you a taste of the spirit and joy of the evening, and more are available here.
Massive thanks to Simon at Factotum films for getting these high-lights together. Enjoy!
Umbrellafest would not have been possible without the phenomenal support of so many. R Bensons, who gave us the cash to make it happen. Caroline and her wonderful family gave us a truly magical venue together with absolutely unwavering support in every way possible. William Botterill provided all the refreshments through Tesco other local suppliers, and the guys from ACS seamlessly ran the event and made sure everyone was well fed and watered. Amazing musicians supported our Electric Umbrella participants, each of whom just did us so proud and entertained us all so brilliantly all evening. We had some exceptional volunteers – Amar you were just fab. And to the wonderful practitioners Tim, Carmen and Euan that brought the magic, it was a pleasure to work with you!
We are so grateful for everything everyone did to make the joy possible, and we are already getting excited for Umbrellafest 2016!
And a few from the week of workshops…