Award Winner: Big Fish Little Fish
As we gear up for the next lot of Fantastic for Families awards, we’re shining the spotlight on previous winners.
Here we hear from Big Fish Little Fish. A firm favourite with family audiences as well as our judges.
All of us at Big Fish Little Fish are thrilled to have won Fantastic For Families Awards for the past four years, and delighted to realise how much of a chord we had struck with families across the UK.
Big Fish Little Fish events have been designed by us as parents to be fun for all members of the family (a particular special treat for us is when we see three generations all enjoying themselves together on the dancefloor – not an uncommon sight at BFLF). When Hannah came up with the concept back in 2012 there was a real gap in the market for something outside the school summer holidays that had the same vibe as a family-friendly outdoor music festival and drawn from our experience as seasoned clubbers. We set out to recreate that feeling of unity, fun and losing yourself to cracking tunes, for a few hours every weekend. A place that was as much fun for grownups as children.
Our trial run party in July 2013 was for an invited throng of 300: friends, journalists, bloggers, random people we ran up to in the street/bus/shops because they looked fun (or were in dire need of some). We threw ourselves in at the deep end and learned as we went along what worked and what didn’t. After five years’ experience we can smoothly run a family rave anywhere from an internationally renowned museum to a woodland, from a converted warehouse to a very muddy Glastonbury.
It’s important to do a site visit prior to an event to walk around, carry out a risk assessment and work out how best to run the door to minimise queuing time. When you have a young, possibly fractious baby or young child, you want to get in quickly, get served at the bar and have somewhere to stash your buggy – we take all this into account and work with the venue to ensure proper staffing levels. Venue staff and stewards appointed by BFLF are all fully briefed on our customer service principles and safety procedure prior to each event.
We do everything we can to prepare our guests for the BFLF experience – it can often be a little bewildering to walk into a dark nightclub, the music pumping and find it full of toddlers brandishing long, twirly balloons, dressed as pirates. We put useful information and FAQs on all event posts on our website, facebook and our ticketing sites. We make it explicit that it’s a mainly standing event, the venues can be busy, there is alcohol for sale, and we play ‘grown up’ dance music (albeit at safe levels).
We do all we can to make BFLF inclusive – we welcome guests in wheelchairs and if someone has a disability that means they need a seat, we make sure they have one. We have held a social meet-up for families with children with Downs syndrome in Oxford and we talk to parents whose children have ASD to talk them through what happens at BFLF and make sure where possible that there is a quieter ‘break out’ space where they can go to take a breather if it all gets a bit too much.
The whole BFLF team around the UK (and now Australia!) feel that our guests are active participants in what makes BFLF what it is. From the beginning, just like the best “grown up” clubs and raves that inspired us, it’s always been a crowd that truly represents the cities we live in. Compared to many family arts events, it attracts a wide spectrum of attendees, crucially, families mingle unselfconsciously, brought together by their shared love of music.
It’s their joy, their dancing, their crafting, their playing that feeds back to us and the DJs: it’s a shared experience and a joint act of creation. It’s word-of-mouth above all else that’s kept BFLF growing, and we never take the crowds for granted. We welcome feedback, and take complaints seriously, all emails are replied to in detail and with grace, and the way we construct and promote the parties is constantly evolving in response to what we hear back from our partygoers.
Applying for a Fantastic for Families Award
Organisations who pledge to meet the Family Arts Standards are eligible to self-nominate for a Fantastic for Families Award.
Awards are judged by a panel of experts and include votes from members of the public.
11 December 2017