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A crowd sitting outside watching a performance in Par Bay

A step into the wonderful, despite the weather at the The PAR-teee

Par Bay comprises of three villages and a number of smaller hamlets in a historically underfunded area of Cornwall.

Off the tourist trail, with higher-than-average levels of loneliness and lower than average levels of attainment, Par Bay is home to a lower-socio economic community in a mostly post-industrial setting. There is a historic lack of cultural provision, and limited opportunities.

Here, members of the Creative Civic Change project PAR-teee share their experiences of the programme.

A festival on your doorstep

The PAR-teee is a free festival of outdoor performances, showcasing some of Cornwall’s most exciting artists alongside opportunities for the community to get involved.

Launched in 2021, The PAR-teee is a festival of PAR-formance and PAR-ticipation created by outdoor performance company and PL24 residents The Urban Playground Team.

The festival is an opportunity to present a programme of world-class outdoor performance to the community, and to contract freelance artists from across Cornwall. Through partnerships with Falmouth University and Hall for Cornwall, we were able to train and contract early career artists in a number of roles.

Our activities were delivered by artist-makers, so people could take things they make home with them. There was also a host of PAR-tner organisations present to showcase their year-round activities. Everything was free. In the first year we attracted over 1,500 people from a community of just 10,000.

It was not like this in Par in the past.”
Local resident

How creativity changed our community

In addition to the festival, with support from Creative Civic Change and other funders, including Cultivator, Real Ideas Org, Arts Council England, we ran The Emergent Ensemble. It was a programme to contract and train five early career artists and upskill them as independent self-producers.

Both PAR-teee festivals we held were co-delivered with The Emergent Ensemble, who have performed, worked as crew, set up the whole site, and cleared it again at the end. They also performed ‘doorstep tours’, dancing and performing on people’s doorsteps across the estates, cul-de-sacs, caravan sites and the beach of PAR Bay. Taking art and culture to where people live, and personally inviting those who could make it to The PAR-teee festival.

This event brought people together.”
Local resident

A dancing gentleman and his dog

During the doorstep tour we performed as 50s rock’n’rollers around the estates of St Blazey. In one street, a crowd of children and adults gathered to watch the dancing. Then an elderly gentleman came out of his house, with his elderly dog, and a set of wooden ‘bones’ – an old-fashioned traditional instrument (like the spoons). He proceeded to join in with the music and dancing for some time.

So it was a delight to see him arrive at The PAR-teee a month later, down in Par track, which is a place he wouldn’t normally come to. He stayed and watched all the performances. He joined in once again with the Rockers, getting a round of applause of his own. We know he has suffered from loss and severe loneliness, and there he was joining in with the whole community supporting him.

A crowd sitting outside watching a performance in Par Bay

Looking to the future

To mark the end of our three-year Creative Civic Change journey we commissioned professional filmmaker Neal Megaw and renowned photographer Steve Tanner to document The Par-teee.

Not only did this provide us with amazing documentation of the project, it allowed us to share this footage and images with all the acts, providing them with the material to sell their work beyond the PAR-teee. The value of this to the artists was priceless. The images and film also allowed those who came, and those who watched online, to see a positive story of the place in which we all live.

Across the two years of the festival and Doorstep Tours, over 4,000 people in our community have seen and participated in live performance and making their own art. Our ambition is for the whole community to be involved. We are retaining talent in Cornwall, and creating pathways into participation and work.

In 2022 the PAR-teee also included five PAR-remieres. A tiny festival creating five new pieces of work. Over 50 freelancers made the event happen which resulted in artwork that will live on in our community year-round.

Watch the PAR-teee in action