Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been tweeting a lot about a thing called “@UWSInteractive” (which has a website and everything) – well, because I don’t have enough things on and inspired by the pure madness of 2012, John Coster, Tina Barton and myself decided we wanted to try set up and run a citizen media festival across all campuses and regions of the University of the West of Scotland – touring between them, hosting themed activities and events on each day. UWS is unique as a university, mainly due to the fact that the widest distance between its 4 campuses in Ayr, Paisley, Hamilton and Dumfries is over 60 miles. Since its merger and name-change in 2007, there hasn’t been a festival or a set of public events that have scaled between the 4 locations – and I don’t think there has ever been a festival that focussed on citizen media and community education in the area before either. I’m excited.
With support from such great partners such as Somewhereto_, Newsnet (part of the Media Trust), DocFilm DogWoof PopUp Cinema, and the Skillset Media Academy, we’re hoping to generate a schedule of free workshops, showcases and ‘stuff’ relating to anything to do with media activism and community production.
Essentially, we want to demonstrate with a bit of organisation that we can provide space and context to people who want to do stuff, learn stuff, meet other people and generally appreciate the part of the world that they live in. Being from Ayr myself, I know how easy it is to get angsty and down on yourself because of the lack of obvious and available opportunities to do things – especially when it can feel isolating and closed when others say it is impossible and not worth the effort. UWS was my way out of it, but it is also my way back into it again.
This festival is about reclaiming things and making the most of what we have already, instead of waiting for the big solution to drop by and fix it – and with the help of great people like John and Tina, who have managed to do so much of this in Leicester over the last 4 years, and the people who have already been in touch about running an event or simply just attending, that I’m totally excited about what might possibly happen during the 5th-9th of March.