Jesmond Community Festival
Jesmond Community Festival 2021
Until its forced cancellation in 2020, Jesmond Community Festival had been an annual celebration of the wide range of community organisations operating in Jesmond.
Later in 2020 the decision was made to go ahead with another festival in May 2021, if possible, but to ensure that it took place within the confines of whatever public health advice would be in force at the time.
When public health advice began to clarify, in Spring 2021, it became apparent that the vast majority of indoor events, such as talks and meetings, would have to take place on Zoom (or similar), with most outdoor events in the first part of the month being for 6 people or less. After 17 May it became possible for some indoor events to be held (for example, in the Cricket Club, which has a licence to sell alcoholic drinks), while outdoor events could cater for larger numbers. In all cases strict requirements for social distancing etc remained in place.
Despite all difficulties, it was possible to organise 55 events in May 2021, compared with 85 in the 2019 festival. At a rough estimate over 3,500 people attended or took part in festival events in 2021, compared with over 7,800 in 2019. (This total will include some double counting, i.e. the same people attending several events.)
This success is largely a result of the huge amount of voluntary time and effort which goes into the events, by speakers, organisers and host organisations. And this year many organisations had to struggle with Zoom and other IT innovations, perhaps for the first time.
While many people greatly regretted the absence of flagship events, such as indoor concerts and large outdoor fairs, a few examples were noted of Zoom enabling people from many miles away to join in, including someone from California who attended one of the online talks!