Our Big Gig has grown out of Superact’s Bandstand Marathon project which started life in 2008 with the aim of rejuvenating under used community spaces such as bandstands and to provide performance platforms for amateur musicians in local communities.
Bandstand Marathon first took place on the weekend of 27/28 September 2008 as part of the Cultural Olympiad’s Open Weekend. Across the South West of England, 50 concerts took place on 50 bandstands and performance areas, from Cheltenham to Penzance and Bournemouth to Guernsey; showcasing great music on stages which are not always used for their original purpose.
Bandstands are very much a part of our cultural heritage and Superact has a history of bringing these venues back to life. When the event was repeated in 2009 we managed to reach 120 locations across England and Wales with 3,000 musicians playing and an audience of approaching 50,000 people. In 2010 and 2011, the event continued to grow and over 100 venues took part each year.
The 2012 Bandstand Marathon was the largest community event of the London 2012 Festival closing celebrations. Taking place on Sunday 9th September, there were over 230 events across the UK involving over 9,000 amateur and voluntary musicians and bringing together audiences of over 200,000 people.
The event received celebrity endorsement from Coldplay who supported all of our participants to perform their hit song Viva La Vida at 2:00pm across the whole of the UK. We had a range of musical renditions of the song, from bag pipes in Musselburgh to Ukuleles in Stourbridge!
Superact are also working to build a database of bandstands throughout the UK; thus offering a valuable tool for those with interests in local history, architecture and music alike.
In 2013 the Bandstand Marathon project underwent a re-brand and slight change in direction with a greater emphasis on using music as a tool to bring communities together and create the conditions for more cohesive and integrated communities.
Superact also introduced Our Big Gig EXTRA which was an additional programme of activity in 10 areas across England. The aim of this enhanced work was to have a longer term impact on communities through the establishment of new music groups and provision of support for existing music groups to enable them reach out to more diverse community members.
190 events took place across England from the 11th - 13th July 2014.
Check out the numbers from Our Big Gig in 2014 here
In 2014 Superact worked with crowdfunding platform Spacehive.com to crowdfund for 14 Our Big Gig events. These events were set a target of raising £800 for their events in July, and Superact contributed funding to kick start these campaigns. Superact found that these events gathered lots of interest from members of the public and were a successful way of making Our Big Gig more sustainable in future years.