It was a weekend that will go down in history – Her Majesty the Queen became the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee marking 70 years of service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth. To celebrate the unprecedented anniversary, Arts Council England provided generous funding to encourage projects and collaborations between artists and creatives and not-for profit groups and organisations across the UK.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation awarded 11 grants to projects which used a wide variety of arts to bring communities together to celebrate. One of these projects took place in Clophill where the village hall joined forces with artist Aaron Spendlow from ‘A Children’s Story’ to bring fun smiles to local residents. Aaron said ‘It has been a hard few years for us in the creative industry and this fund has provided us with a brilliant opportunity to work with groups we wouldn’t usually and bring the arts to the public. The event was a huge success with a great turn out’.

Bedford and District Cerebral Palsy Society also received a grant for their project ‘Include me in the Jubilee’ which provided adapted activities for young people with disabilities to ensure they could take part in Jubilee Celebrations and enjoy dance, music and creating costumes for the event. A commemorative video was created to mark the event which can be accessed here:

Pegasus Opera Company, in collaboration with Legacy of the Windrush Descendants and Just Purple Presents, created intergenerational ‘pop up’ opera singing performances and also gave a short concert, paired with an exhibition of local Windrush archives. Sonia Hymes from Pegasus Opera said: ‘We we’re delighted to receive generous support from BLCF to produce our Caribbean Jubilee celebration in Bedford. We celebrated, we sang and we had the most amazing time-sharing stories, food and music with the community’. Activities were captured by Channel 4 and a video can be viewed here: Bedford marks Jubilee with opera performance of ‘A Windrush Anthem’ – Channel 4 News

In Luton, Women’s Aid launched a theatre project in collaboration with Full House Theatre for children impacted by domestic abuse focusing on the creation of ‘The Big Blue Blob Planet’. Luton Sixth Form also performed a showcase of original music and drama pieces across Her Majesty’s 70 year reign. In a further collaboration Queen’s Park Community Organisation teamed up with Bedford Creative Arts (BCA), Luma Sounds and Utopia Mas UK to bring art, dance and music to the streets. The community took part in a series of art workshops, in which costumes were made for the parade. Upcoming and local artists also performed.

Sincere thanks to all those involved in bringing these projects to life and for volunteering to ensure celebrations could take place across Central Bedfordshire, Bedford and Luton.