In 2016, in partnership with Laura Brown and the Beautiful Ideas Company, we launched an event series called Folken.
Folken means ‘group of folk’ (and if it doesn’t officially, it should) and our aim for Folken was straightforward. As a business, and individually, we’ve worked in a number of sectors and themes across our careers – arts and culture, social enterprise, startups, placemaking and media, to name a few – and we’d been having the same conversations with people in these sectors over the years. Conversations about funding, our city, and what it meant to be a grassroots organisations and independent here, our challenges, fears and hopes and dreams.
But we’d also noticed that these conversations, whilst happening simultaneously across sectors at the same time, weren’t really crossing over from one to the other. Are there things that the arts and culture sector could learn from startups, and vice versa? We thought so, and Folken was launched to provide a platform to do it. With stories, dancing, booze, good food and good company thrown in to get the conversations started.
Over three weeks in summer 2016 and five events, plus one Christmas gathering later in the year, new friendships were made, new spaces were visited and new stories heard. We felt a new energy in the sectors that we work in and with the people we work with in them. We sang songs, debated furiously and the day after Brexit we came together for an open storytelling evening where people, that just three weeks earlier had never met, felt like old friends.
Folken isn’t about speakers on a stage and a silent audience, it’s participatory; our speakers and our audience are both Folken Folk. It’s about stories and discussion, and about understanding each others journeys and how they reflect our own. It’s a support network coming together to hear each other out properly, in person, in an age when much of our discourse happens superficially in 140 characters or less. It’s about staying past the speakers to share a drink together and share ideas.
In October 2017, in partnership with our friends at Make Liverpool, Folken (the event series) is coming back. Three events over three months. More stories about things that matter to the Folken in our city, new friendships made, more drinking and hopefully a few more songs and dances. The next one, on November 8, will talk about how the arts are funded. You can book a ticket here. After that, on November 29, talk will turn to gentrification…
And we’ve a plan for Folken in 2018 too. Join us in late 2017 to find out more.
~ Andrew Beattie
Image = Austin Chan via Unsplash