As we approach the end of the year, I thought now is a good time to look back and reflect on our inaugural U-fest event which took place earlier in the year.
At this time of the year, I am filled with gratitude for all the developments I have seen happen over the past 12 months and although there is much more to be done, I am excited and hopeful for what 2018 will bring.
Our first U-fest event
Our first U-fest event was held in Mulhuddart Community Centre on the 21st October from 12 noon until 4 pm and was a roaring success! Mulhuddart was chosen for the location for this first event as it is an area with broad ethnic diversity and the local Area Partnership had expressed an interest in an event like U-fest.
In advance of the festival, I grabbed the opportunity to get out and meet with as many different community groups in the Dublin 15 area. Not only did this allow me to identify different community groups, but also to learn first-hand about their specific needs. As this is the work I love to do, it was so wonderful to talk to people one to one and see how we could develop an event which would speak to their needs and desires instead of planning based on what we thought might be useful.
With guidance and input from the Blanchardstown Area Partnership, I also met with different community representatives and a range of local businesses. In this way, by first putting in the work to get to know all of the various players in the community we could develop the festival programme in such a way that it would meet the project objectives of integration and diversity, by first understanding the diverse needs and interests of the community of Dublin 15.
In the end, we decided that the festival would involve a 2-hour enterprise fair, which would allow business people from across Dublin 15 to showcase their business no matter what area of the community they were from. Many enterprise fairs represent only a small cohort of the business community in a given area, often budgetary constraints, a lack of integration and confidence hold some business owners back from participating in events which would allow their business to flourish. This was not to be the case at U-fest, we wanted to get everyone involved! To ensure that everyone had a chance to be heard, we also invited all of the business participants to deliver a short pitch describing who they are and what their business does onstage during the day. In order to encourage exchange and conversation among the participants, there was an interactive and facilitated approach, with lively MC’ing throughout.
After the enterprise fair, the festival kicked off in earnest. The rest of the afternoon was an explosion of cultural expression from around the world focussed in Dublin 15. There were performances, music, dance, comedy, food and family-friendly activities.
The afternoon was colourful, lively and highly original. Irish culture was represented through spoken word performance and Irish dancing; there were also performances by groups from Nigeria, Bolivia and Indonesia, as well as presentations by Dublin-based groups such as an Arabic class. A specially commissioned drama presentation was performed by the charity, i-Smile. Entitled “The Wall”, it explored issues related to cultural stereotyping and bias.
We were delighted that Lord Mayor of Fingal Cllr Mary McCamley could be with us to open proceedings and that Blanchardstown Area Partnership Enterprise Officer Sarah Nic Lochlainn came along to address the audience. A huge debt of gratitude is owing to our marvellous MC’s on the day, Colm Keegan and Gladys Otono-Atsenokhai.
I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came along to our inaugural U-fest event back in October and who helped to make it a success. Honestly, there were so many people involved who played a blinder and the organising team at U-fest truly appreciate each person’s effort which combined created a wonderful day that everyone enjoyed.
Wishing all our followers a very happy Winter holiday, whatever way you choose to spend it. May it be a beautiful time of community and I hope that the new year is a love-filled and prosperous one for us all.