Knowle West Fest provides ten hours of seamless online entertainment

Main image: Bristol Reggae Orchestra with their set created during lockdown.

The popular Knowle West Fest moved online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic – seamlessly providing ten hours of entertainment – from music and yoga to art workshops and talks.

Confidently presented by resident Tatiana Powell – there were a variety of activities for different age groups and plenty of very local talent to showcase – both live streamed and pre-recorded.

Tatiana Powell who introduced the acts.

This year the event was organised by digital arts charity Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) working with local residents.

You could log in to your favourite acts or keep it on in the background all day – but there was plenty to make you smile.

Local artist Julian Woods binging up the virtues of kindness was a good act to have near the start.

His mission to “make someone’s life a little happier”. has included leaving flags and uplifting messages around the Northern Slopes and wider Bristol for his Art of Kindness Project.

Make it with Meg involved the vibrant Megan Bagnall-Clark talking about Filwood Fantastic’s mini golf club which has been meeting virtually during lockdown to share skills and help design the course – currently being built at Filwood Community Centre by re:work.

She said: “We want you guys to have a taste of all the fun we’ve been having during lockdown… today is the exciting launch of the Knowle West Fest Challenge Champion 2020….”

Residents have until midnight on 19 September to create their own golf course with an improvised golf club and ball and “the materials that represent you”. 

Examples could include plants, musical instruments or cooking utensils – if that is your passion.

You then just have to take a photograph of it to enter. Prizes will be a challenge cup and a belt – reminiscent of the Challenge Belt from the British Open golf competition.

Other family activities included South Bristol Children’s Centre with sing-along nursery rhymes and a story reading of the Gruffalo.

South Bristol Children’s Centre with their sing-along nursery rhymes for young children.

There was also a practical art workshop on portraits and lantern decoration with Bristol artists Alan May and Ruth Meyers – the lanterns will be displayed later in the year on the Walk of Hearts and Stars.

Children and their families also had the chance take part in a live interactive theatre show with  The Anarchist’s Mobile Library – and experience an exciting theatrical experience at home.

Local brother and sister duo Chelsea and Sam Watts from Perfect Soul performed a range of modern and classic pop songs – which included numbers from Stevie Wonder and Amy Winehouse. Their slot was run twice at different times – as unlike most festivals this online version kept to time – and was actually ahead of itself.

Chelsea and Sam Watts from Perfect Soul.

And yoga teacher Kelly Sheldrick gave viewers the chance to take part in both armchair and family yoga sessions. Kelly who taught at Filwood Community Centre before lockdown now runs online classes. She added a calming interlude to what was already very mellow and smooth festival.

In between acts there were at-the-scene shots of artist Claudia Collins who was cycling around the area giving out candy floss and rock and introducing her project Knowle West Rocks. This was the only time the sound quality was difficult – proving that the festival was indeed live.

Claudia had also been delivering the festival packs to make sure the vibe came straight to people’s homes and to help them get into the spirit of the day.

The talent and enthusiasm of local residents was also highlighted in a comedy sketch filmed by 21-year-old Luke Dean from his bedroom during lockdown – “Thank you for your Patience” and talks by different groups about their projects which included tree champion Jim Smith and Joan Roberts from local knitting group Knit and Natter.

Resident Luke Dean reflects on lockdown.

Headline music acts included the Bristol Reggae Orchestra playing a set which they composed during lockdown (see main picture), music from Elsuie and Kala Chng with her blend of Chinese pop streamed live from a Knowle West studio.

Kala added interest to her performance with different accessories from a Chinese a hat to a twirling scarf and with just a single guitarist this year – which meant more focus on her voice.

Knowle West’s Kala Chng performs her blend of Chinese pop.

Early evening also saw four short films screened from Cables & Cameras – an independent film company founded by Gary Thompson which supports filmmakers and creatives from BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic) backgrounds. 

This included the film ‘Inner” by Mevis Birungi about an experience of isolation during lockdown – produced during her placement as a filmmaker for KWMC’s Eight Agency.

The films were followed by a question and answer session with some of the producers – and talk of the launch of the Bristol Black Horror Club in October.

Screenshot from horror film “Boys in the Woods” shown at the festival.

Late evening viewers were treated to sets from two popular DJs – Bunjy and Gangster Steve – a fitting end to the day.

DJ Bunjy (right) with MC Joe Peng.

There have been plenty of festivals going online this year – but this one didn’t disappoint as there was something to cater for most tastes – and unlike live festivals you weren’t hanging about for set up – it just kept coming.

Co-organisers Martha King and Josephine Gyasi from KWMC told The Knowledge that following the festival’s success – they would be happy to help with any digital content next year.

Co-organiser Martha King (left) from KWMC with presenter Tatiana.

Martha said: “Having a mix of online and offline with the day long broadcast – plus the brilliant local artist made physical craft packs that went through doors, music at the Filwood Broadway Market the weekend before and a roving reporter giving out candy floss on the streets – meant that people could be part of the festival in different ways and in their own time.

“We would love to do more of this next year and KWMC would happily support any local groups who would like to create videos if we end up doing a mix of on and offline again.”

Josephine added: “It was an absolute privilege to co-organise Knowle West Fest this year. The response we got from the community to take part and perform was amazing and I am super pleased with the diverse range of talent that was showcased throughout the day.

“At first I thought bringing everything online would be a huge challenge, but the team’s effort and skill and resources made it seamless – shoutout to all tech assistance and everyone who performed. “

So what if you missed some acts are are kicking yourself? The live stream is currently being edited and organisers will let you know when it’s being put online for you to have a chance to catch up at your leisure.