The intent behind the Tent: Play and Creativity Festival 2019

3 Apr 2019

Professor Alison James, Director of Academic Quality and Development, and a member of the Winchester team behind the Play and Creativity Festival, highlights how play offers opportunities to learn differently and explore the subjects which matter to us.

It has to be Festival time again: the campus is in bloom, the Play Tent is on the Dytche, and the weather is hopelessly unpredictable.

The route from the Kenneth Kettle Building down to the Tent has been yarn bombed, paper pompoms have been made and chocolate krispies have been handed out - all thanks to our 20+ Student Play Champs.

This year is particularly special because of them. Not only have they been tireless in preparing for the event, they are making it their own by running sessions on letter art, finger knitting, cos play, theatre design, origami, 'warm fuzzy jars', bunting making and rock painting. Their commitment to the Festival really underlines that the Festival is every bit for our students, as well as our staff.

The Play Festival is multipurpose and its activities take many forms. Some are quiet and individual and have the aim of calming harried minds and releasing imaginative thinking. Others are game-based, theatrical, participative and energetic. They all offer opportunities for staff and students to learn differently, boost curiosity at a time when energy is flagging, and reconnect a little.

Play is also a means of exploring subjects which matter to us - hence our theme of Sustaining the Imagination, which can be interpreted through creative making, or through engagement with our green spaces.

We are piloting the University of Winchester Tree Trail on Thursday to improve our awareness and appreciation of our campus habitat. By popular demand The Secret Life of Campus tour returns, taking us behind the scenes to understand how we address our environmental priorities. To supporting us in fleshing out our Strategic Vision we invite you to take part in our challenge (experiment?!) to Build the University of the Future out of recyclable materials on Friday afternoon.

The relationship between play and research also features in this year's programme, in the shape of Professor Paul Sowden's Creative Walks project. So too do outreach activities with both young and (slightly) older communities in mind. On Wednesday 3 April, 30 pupils from Kings School to the Tent will visit us to engage in writing and creating activities as part of the countdown to the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's voyage to the New World. On Thursday evening at 6pm there is an open invitation for you to join Professors Sowden, Lucas and James in an interactive exploration of the meaning of play and creativity in learning and life. It's free and you can book on here.

The integration of playful practices in university learning is something which we here at Winchester have actively contributed to in the last three years and is increasing in the UK higher education sector. Each year we invite fellow play practitioners to join us and contribute to the Festival; this year we are delighted to welcome Dr Julia Reeve from De Montfort University. Julia will take us through a workshop on using LEGO for mindfulness on Friday morning.

We have done our best to bring the Festival to everyone's attention but know that in the mayhem of Week 12, even clicking on a link can feel like a bridge too far. We do hope, however, that you will take that step, read the programme and find something to take part in. We look forward to welcoming you to Play and Creativity 2019.

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