Just can’t get GNUF: tensions, affinities and portable communities in an independent festival

Mary Krell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Over the past five years, in West Yorkshire, an independent festival and a community arts charity have worked together to develop an annual event which meaningfully functions as a music festival and a series of extended activities for community engagement. This paper explores that work and presents it as a model of a type of inclusive festival. It does so in part by building upon and extending current research into questions of social inclusion and community engagement at musical festivals (Mair & Laing, 2015). It presents a range of approaches and explores the issues they present. It also extends and challenges notions about the tension between local communities and the, ‘portable communities’ one finds at festivals (Gardner, 2004). The festival in question is an instrument-specific festival and, as such, might be viewed as problematic when attempting to produce work that is inclusive and provides meaningful community engagement. At the core of this paper is an exploration of the interdisciplinary collaboration that was key to overcoming those tensions. The research underpinning this work comes not only from 5 years of running community-based music festivals in the UK but from the critical evaluation of responses from over 300 audience member/participants over that period and a wider engagement with the field. This paper explores A Grand Northern Ukulele Festival (GNUF) and its collaborations with Faceless Arts. Their work has been funded by local & regional councils, by national arts funding bodies and Arts Council England.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventCHIME Conference, Music, Festivals, Heritage - Siena Jazz Archive, Siena, Italy
Duration: 25 May 201728 May 2017


ConferenceCHIME Conference, Music, Festivals, Heritage
Internet address

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