Thursday, 17 July 2014

Cowley Road Carnival - Taking Museums out into the Local Community - Aisling Serrant

Recently we got the chance to participate in Cowley Road Carnival , our second event working together as a team. The theme was ‘Oxford Faces’ and so we decided to run mask making as our activity and we took with us lots of masks from different countries, as well as a horse skull and a velociraptor skull, which the public could handle for themselves. 

We had two preparation sessions before the carnival which allowed us to discuss what we were going to do and how we were going to do it. We wanted masks to represent the various museums and some of people’s favourite objects in them. But we also had to consider other factors, for example, if we had masks to appeal to a range of different ages and whether they were simple enough for an event like Cowley Road Carnival where a lot of people are going to pass through and many won’t want to stay for too long with so many other things going on around them.

 We trialled making some of the masks to test out which ones were easiest to make and what sorts of materials were best to use. We decided on the Egyptian pharaoh, dinosaur and samurai warrior masks, but also some more simple eye masks which allowed people to be more creative by coming up with a design from scratch. We photocopied the character masks and made our own templates of the more simple ones. We also drew up a list of what materials we needed to take with us and what we needed to buy before the big day.

When the day arrived we spent a couple of hours (and a lot of our energy!) setting up our area with two tents and lots of tables filled with all manner of crafty materials. Then we just had to wait for the carnival to start and the people to come, and come they did! We counted 220 children accompanied by just about as many adults who passed through our tent. Our visitors loved the activity and the day was a resounding success, especially as the sun stayed out for the whole event.

 The day ran smoothly and we didn’t encounter any major problems, however throughout the day me and the team did identify some things we could improve. Firstly when some people approached, because the whole area was so busy and full of stuff, they found it hard to see what the activity was, where they got the materials from and they were also unsure if it was a free activity or not. To resolve this Rachel made a sign saying ‘free mask making’ and I tidied up the main table so people could easily see the different options available. Also, I quite quickly realised that a lot of people didn’t want to go find an available template and draw round it themselves so I started drawing round and cutting some of the simple shapes so we had some ready for people to use.

 We had a great day which gave us experience of being involved in a big scale event with a lot of people passing through. Most of all everyone who visited us enjoyed the experience and we were thanked by lots of people for our presence at the event.

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