Secret Garden Party pledges to be ‘a force for good’

Freddie Fellowes, the Founder of The Secret Garden Party, highlights why the independent festival has adopted the social enterprise model – committing 65% of all profits to front-line charities working to provide access to the arts for people from underserved and disenfranchised communities.

Freddie Fellowes, the founder of The Secret Garden Party, shares why the independent festival has adopted a social enterprise model.

The Secret Garden Party was born from the rave and free party scene. Spaces that, seemingly for the first time, provided an inclusive freedom for all who attended. The Garden Party was our way of bringing that attitude and culture out into an even more inclusive space that wasn’t just about large sound systems and monotheistic attachment to one style of music. Bands, solo artists, and performers of all types – from the serene to the absurd – were included. Every guest had the opportunity to play their part in this celebration of creativity and much of the content quickly became what they had imagined and realised. The lines between spectator and performers became blurred, and as a whole, the Garden became a stage. 

That, in its essence, came from an ethos of allowing everyone possible to be able to realise their creative dreams in a celebration of life in all its wondrous forms. Ultimately, if that becomes something only accessible to those that can afford it then it eventually strays from the ethos of SGF and into stagnation.

The idea of how we change this came from my team. It was suggested that we should look at becoming a charity of some description. After much research we settled on the Social Enterprise model; this pledges that, at least, 65% of profits go to organisations focussed on helping people in the sectors we have identified as the mission of the Social Enterprise. And our stated mission? To help in the rehabilitation of the at risk and disenfranchised via the arts.

There is, currently, a huge need to support the creative arts, and the industry around it. By opening it up to a wider, more diverse range of people, who otherwise wouldn’t consider it a possible career option for them. The challenges and barriers facing people range across everything; from the social and cultural to the situational and economical. 

By re-inventing the gathering as a Social Enterprise we are able to not only return to the ideals that started The Secret Garden Party but also make it a force for good that is truly accessible to a far wider range of people. By using the energy of the Garden Party to not only generate funds for frontline organisations helping the marginalised, disenfranchised but also as base for round the year engagement via residential apprenticeships offering experience and learning in a huge array of skills. 

We live in exciting times and now, more than ever, is the moment to look long and hard at the ‘why’ in what we do. We’ve done that and this is our response, a pledge to be a force for good in every way we can and in partnership with everyone who is The Secret Garden Party.

This article originally appeared in issue #275 of TPi, which you can read here.

Words: Freddie Fellowes

Photo: The Secret Garden Party