22 September 2020

Two dates, two locations, a bunch of flamingos and an 80’s loving aerobics instructor. What have we been up to? 

We’re pleased to say, we can finally tell you!

We’ve just held two very successful, invite-only super socially distanced outdoor events by the name of The Secret Picnic.

Taking place the first two weekends of September, one in Leamington, Ashfield at Leamington Primary Academy and the other at St Peter’s Primary School, Bellamy Road, Mansfield , we brought whimsy wackiness to 200 people from the two communities.

The events form part of chapter two of our Go the Distance festival, alongside work we’ve already been doing in these two communities.

We wanted to bring people together to see some crackin’ acts in a fun and imaginative way. So, we created a picnic with a twist.

Olivia Newton-John Fan Club

Sarah Blanc as her character Tracy at First Art's The Secret Picnic

Hosted by the brilliantly bonkers 80s-styled aerobics instructor Tracy (performed by Sarah Blanc), guests were treated to and joined in with slap-stick circus, magic, dance routines, hula hooping, cream pie making contests, games of bingo along with circus and magic workshops for all ages.

Quirkiness was name of the game at The Secret Picnic. A dressed up snipe (a bird of relevance in Ashfield) and lion took on the role of mascots, coupled with flamingos, bunting, pineapples and more. It certainly wasn’t your typical picnic.

Each invited group, of up to eight people of the same household or social bubble, were provided with their own picnic spot complete with a comfy rug, cushions, deckchairs, and a hamper full of food, activities and props.

We thoroughly enjoyed the event. Never attended anything like this before. Great mixture of activities.

There were smiles all round from everyone taking part and lots of positive comments from the guests.

Loved it, so much energy. Varied activities, something for everyone.

The aim of the picnics was to provide a bit of fun and a taste of some of the different ways cultural events can be put on in an area for a wide range of people to enjoy.

It was also a way for us to find out a bit more about what those communities want to see happen, helped by the lure of free ice cream.

Absolutely fantastic. Would like to see more events like this.

Karl Greenwood, First Art Director said:

We loved presenting The Secret Picnic. A massive thanks goes to all those that helped make them happen in these difficult times, especially the schools and supporting partners.

Fingers-crossed, this event is something we’ll be able to take to a good many other places in the future, so watch this space

Keeping safe

Safety being a top concern, we worked with Ashfield District Council, Mansfield District Council and Active Notts to make sure everything could work within the social distancing requirements.

The events were invite-only to allow us to control the numbers attending. Our partners were brilliant in helping to get invites out across the two communities.

As both events were held on school playing fields we had plenty of space to ensure things were well distanced, along with a one-way system in operation.

Each event was split into two sittings, a morning and an afternoon allowing time to ensure everything was cleaned down before the next).

Take a squizz at more picnic antics. All images © First Art / Dean Leivers 2020