The Tandem journey began in 2014. We launched our Open Meeting series to act as a platform for members of the community to collaborate and build their own festival. Through volunteer-power alone, the Tandem team began engaging with Community Action Groups (CAGs) around Oxfordshire alongside talented young musicians and artists, to create a unique, community-led festival that fuses environmental and social issues with art. Tandem Festival was born.
Tandem is a music festival that brings art together with talks and workshops on social and environmental issues. Tandem also acts as a retail platform for small local businesses, is a space for community projects to collaborate, and is a celebration of international culture. Tandem Festival focuses on bringing people together and working ‘in tandem’ to inspire new ways of thinking about environmental and social change. Our first two years saw the festival hosted at Hill End Outdoor Education Centre in Farmoor. We took a break in 2016, instead taking the opportunity to focus on consolidating the organisation and preparing to launch a third edition of the 3-day festival in 2017. We kept the music alive by partnering with Restore, bringing Tandem Festival into the centre of Oxford to reach new audiences and work more closely with our other city-centre based partners. You can read more about Tandem 2016 below.
Tandem 2015 was the next landmark for our Tandem community. With pre-festival events including joint events with Hubbub, OVADA & ECI, & the creation of InTandem Publications, it became clear that our journey from an annual summer festival to a year-round ‘Collective’ was just beginning. 2015 saw the creation of Tandem’s very own bar, sourcing the best local ales, ciders & wines. We also launched a pilot music camp during the build-up of Tandem Festival called Ethno England. Ethno is a global organisation that brings international folk musicians together to share music & generate cultural exchange – many Oxford-based musicians took part, as well as musicians from Chile, Belgium, France & Spain. This was hugely successful & is running again from the 9th to the 18th June 2017. See the Ethno England section of our website for more information.
2015 also saw a collaboration with the Red Cross to create a stage celebrating refugee culture as part of ‘Refugee Week’, widening the scope of Tandem’s collaborations from local to international. We brought together over 40 Oxford-based community groups & 70 European artists to perform & deliver talks, workshops & films that presented sustainability in an engaging, fun & relevant way. The festival-goers were predominantly Oxford citizens who benefited & learnt not only from the activities & arts on offer, but also from the fact that Tandem embodies its environmental ideals in the very fabric of the festival organisation.
For the 2016 festival, we moved away from Hill End & partnered with local mental health charity Restore to create an ethical festival of acoustic music. Called Tandem in the Garden, this one-day festival included hands-on workshops, inspiring talks & local, gourmet food & drink, at Restore’s hidden garden oasis on the Cowley Road. All profits raised went towards supporting Restore.
In 2017 we moved the festival to the beautiful Lower Farm. Located in Ramsden, our partnership with the wonderful landlord of Lower Farm enabled Tandem to come back in full swing with the full 3 days of Tandem magic. We stayed at Lower Farm for 2018 and are delighted we’ll be there again in 2019.
Tandem’s music offering is carefully designed to be diverse, innovative and pioneering – a carefully thought out balance between acoustic and amplified music. We have worked with local promoters Catweazle and Sofar Sounds Oxford to bring our audience the best of the local music scene alongside international stages curated by international partners such as Nightscapes Productions (Nl) and Nomadic Sessions (Fr). Tandem Festival is particularly proud to have worked with internationally acclaimed conductor Cayenna Ponchione to bring a community-based fifty piece orchestra to the festival in 2015, complementing the folk, jazz, indie and world music program with classical music.
We believe creativity in all its forms engages and empowers new audiences to tackle environmental and social issues. Here is a flavour of our creative collaborations:
Nightscapes partnered with us for the first 2 editions of Tandem Festival. They are a production company based in Maastricht, Netherlands who took on the building of one of Tandem’s stages. They specialise in creating unique artistic structures using minimal resources. In 2014 they built an entire stage out of second hand books – the stage has just been used again in a festival in the Netherlands!
Re-Resonate partnered with Tandem to deliver upcycled instrument & music making workshops as part of the Festival, Residencies & Tandem Sundays. Re-Resonate is an Oxford – based organisation ‘combining music, craft & technology (to) develop & deliver innovative participatory arts projects with adults & children in both mainstreams & specialist community settings. In inclusive & highly engaging workshops (they) build musical instruments, create installations, compose, perform & produce music & generally explore the creative potential of sound in order to kindle imaginations & nurture positive
skills & insights.
Lisa Made It partnered with Tandem from the very early days, initially designing our upcycled, hand screen-printed T-shirts & neckerchiefs & moving on to co-design the Tandem Festival map, posters & flyers, to design the InTandem logo & to illustrate InTandem Publication. Lisa also offered workshops in useful but creative sewing skills, screen-printing & crafting at Tandem Festival & Tandem Sundays.
Dance workshops – Tandem Festival 2014 and 2015 offered many dance and movement workshops including the hugely popular African dance, Hungarian dance and Circus skills. The workshops promoted interaction of people with people and people with music. They also invited collaboration, openness and a huge amount of joy!
Theatre – we also offered theatre workshops at Tandem 2014 and 2015. These included the Apple Cart, Shadow Puppets, Physical theatre, spoken word and storytelling. These workshops fused movement, music and spoken word to explore environmental themes.
Film – At Tandem 2015 we offered three brilliant documentaries that explore environmental and social issues; Seeds of Freedom, Leave to Remain (as part of Refugee Week) and The City Dark.
All our talks & workshops have environmental & social change at their core & seek to educate our audiences on the vital importance & satisfaction involved in collaboration, engagement with the environment & in all elements of recycling, up-cycling, repair & reuse.
A sample of the talks & workshops we have offered in the past are:
A. Bicester Green Upcycling Tent
This tent was dedicated to creative reuse & recycling & offered clothes repair, bag making, musical instrument making from trash, beehive making, woodworking, rubbish totem pole making, upcycling bike bits & bike repair.
B. Walk in Wytham Woods from Oxford University Professor Keith
This walk served as an introduction to one of the most studied woods in the world. Participants were guided on a walk of about 60-90 minutes in Wytham Woods & found out more about its history, the plants that grow there, how people used it in the past & the research that goes on there today.
C. Change the Culture Not the Climate
The Buzz Tour walked 1,300 miles around England in the Summer of 2014, camping & living off donations. The ‘Bees’ interviewed over 80 people about the inspiring things they were doing to change our culture & avert climate chaos. With everyone taking a tiny piece of the puzzle sometimes we feel alone & without hope but we are not. Participants heard the stories of others, shared their expertise & considered ways we can speed up cultural change & pollinate change together.
A commitment to environmental protection lies at the heart of everything we do. All of the decorations & furnishings used at the festival are rescued & up-cycled: compost toilets are built out of salvaged pallets; all food is vegetarian; the Tandem bar serves largely local beers, ciders, wines & spirits. Food is sourced locally & ethically, with much of it being food that would have otherwise gone to waste, saving a total of 400kg of food from landfill (equivalent to 1552kg of carbon) in 2015. Only one stage in the whole site is amplified & only at night, & the audience (and artists) are actively asked to adopt the most eco-friendly mode of transport & join one of the many bike rides heading to the festival from hubs across the UK & Europe. In 2015 we hosted around 400 people at the festival, with about 70% arriving via pedal-power from as far afield as Bristol, Manchester, Cambridge & even Ghent, saving a total of 489.9kg of carbon compared to driving!
Yoga, meditation and massage workshops have been part of Tandem Festival, Tandem Sundays and inTandem Artistic Residencies. All three activities promote human interaction, peace, compassion, happiness and awareness both of oneself and of the environment and people around you. As such they address key elements that underscore Tandem’s aims.