Cradley Heath,1987

The word ‘Jubilee’ denotes is a particular anniversary of an event, usually denoting the 25th, 40th, 50th, 60th, and the 70th anniversary. The term is these days for celebrations associated with weddings, or the reign of a monarch with these milestone years. In Judaism, the Jubilee was observed every 50 years, the year at the end of seven cycles of sabbatical years (shmita), a time when, according to the Book Of Leviticus, slaves and prisoners would be freed and debts forgiven.

In Sandwell, you could find Jubilee parks and launderettes, as well as Jubilee Arts. During 1977, the silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II, they referred to themselves as Jubilee Nothing to Do With the Queen Theatre and Community Arts Group. Nevertheless, the group were great believers in community celebrations, if not those associated with members of the original Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family.

Ben Stanley recalls: “As a little ’un tagging on to the Summer Celebrations I have amazing memories of these crazy summers. Best of all, being a boy, was being driven around in the bus and playing with the hydraulic doors! I have memories of Peter Chaplin making withy lanterns, Kevin Murphy with the hurdy-gurdy, BBQ Dave (never did know his last name) making the food, and a host of others running what have to have been the best in community arts events. The darkroom on the bus was inspired and always led to some great tape-slide shows on the Bell and Howell projector, accompanied by live music performances and some amazing shadow puppet shows.

The Jubilee crew were grounded enough realise that something as simple as a barn dance and a BBQ was a great way of engaging with some really tough groups and they all understood that whatever the outcome from the event there was always something to celebrate, even in just bringing people together. Dad loved the connections that were made during these events and really worked hard to bring this ethos in to everything he went on to do over the years. My thinking and my future work will continue to be shaped by these summers – thanks!”

Ben was about nine years old when he helped out on the Bus projects. Today he is Director of Trilby Multimedia, a fine organisation in their own right.

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