Chapelfield of Dreams

On the 7th July 2007, over 200 members of the public gathered in Chapelfield Gardens to review and add to the many ideas and proposals we had gathered about how to improve this much-loved public space. The People Speak provided them with a dynamic, entertaining direct democracy game-show to decide on which ideas to take forwards.

People voting at Chapelfield of Dreams

People voting at Chapelfield of Dreams

We began by gathering ideas from people in the park.  There were many ideas and suggestions from many  enthusiastic people.

Vox pops in Chapelfield Gardens

Vox pops in Chapelfield Gardens

Vox pops in Chapelfield Gardens

Vox pops in Chapelfield Gardens

The ideas included:

  • Activities (dancing, performances, music)
  • Art (sculpture, art activities, graffiti wall)
  • Music (use of bandstand, brass bands, local bands)
  • Features (flowers, bushes, trees, a water feature)
  • Safety (lighting, CCTV, police presence)
  • Drinking (licensed premises, regulated drinking
  • spaces)
  • Sports & Play (play area, skate park, football pitch)
  • Improved and safer toilets.
  • Quite a few people said “it’s perfect, leave it  alone!”.

These ideas were collected into a video that was  shown before the game show during the Chapelfield of  Dreams event and online.

Mikey working with students

Visualisation workshops at City College Norwich

We then worked with Fruitful Arts,  students from Norwich School of Art and Design and City College  Norwich, as well as children from  Earlham School to develop those
ideas into visualisations. We ran a series of discussion  events around the Talkaoke table at  each campus, and gathered more  ideas and feedback from students.

The Park Visualisation

Chapelfield of Dreams Video Visualisation map

All the ideas so far were then worked into an interactive 3d map of  the park and the ideas, which we put online with videos at so that people would have a  chance to see and  respond to the ideas  before the event. During the event, over 200 people gathered in Chapelfield  Gardens and participated in a direct democracy game show,  shaping and amending the ideas we had gathered into a  new proposal.

The ideas that emerged on the day synthesised lots of the  ideas put forward earlier, and brought different groups of  park users into contact with one another.


People voting during Chapelfield of Dreams

Although there  were differences of  opinion on many issues, especially between generations, the  eventual points of agreement were that the park should be  made safer by encouraging more positive uses of the  neglected spaces such as the bandstand – encouraging  local bands and performers to use it as an outdoor music  venue. There was also agreement that some kind of facility  for young people such as a small skate park would help with this. In general, all the different groups felt that encouraging  positive and creative uses of the park by each different group would help reduce the high perception of antisocial behaviour in Chapelfield Gardens.

Having run an event in the park, and got such good feedback and responses, we felt that regular public events and use of the bandstand as a cheaply and easily available small scale venue to showcase local talent, brass bands and other entertainment would be a very positive influence.

After the project, the commissioners had this to say:

“The People Speak offers an extraordinarily innovative and technologically exciting approach to socially engaged public art that enables ordinary people to feel energised, excited and fully involved in the process. Our ‘Chapelfield of Dreams’ project in Norwich gripped 300 people, most of them under 25, for nearly four hours in an open air game of ‘Who Wants To Be’ that allowed them to imagine their own vision for the park. Highly recommended!”

Nicky Adamson, director of The Garage arts centre.

Chapelfield of Dreams was a project by The People Speak, as part of Contemporary Art Norwich ’07, in collaboration with The Garage, Norwich School of Art and Design, Earlham School and City College Norwich.


One Response to “Chapelfield of Dreams”

  1. […] not only entertained theatre audiences, it has also been used as a public decision-making tool to decide how to invest in a much-loved local park and as a large-scale experiment in participatory budgeting for young people in […]

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