introducing the Green Gatherings first Regional Partner site initiative – Hearts of Oak Organisation (HOO) at the Heaven Sculpture Yard in 4 acres of Suffolk Woodland.
For the past 21 years, HOO has maintained an idylic arts community in the Suffolk countryside, exemplifying a low impact, sustainable, work and living environment. We are a community of artists and makers working from our woodland base in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Founded by the late Ben Platt-Mills and Ray Brooks in 1999, Hearts of Oak members continue to uphold the key values of open hearted co-operation and creativity that Ben and Ray worked so hard to establish.
The HOO community has recently received grant support from e-Forests to plant 1500 mixed native species trees and shrubs and has an ambitious 5 year plan to create a wetland area and a new community workspace to add to their range of large scale benders, roundhouses and reclaimed material workshops. The community benefits from a large communal meeting space, a communal workshop and art space, a machine shop and forge, numbers own studios and workshops, outside pizza oven, compost toilets and solar power.
Hearts of Oak supports the work of professional artists with people in local communities and to encourage environmental awareness, access and care of the countryside. which means they are a perfect match with the core charitable aims of the Green Gathering and an ideal pilot project for our Regional Partner Site initiative. It also helps that Green Gathering trustee, Tony Phillips is a member of the HOO community so we can hold him personally responsible to ensure the pilot project goes smoothly before we invite other like-minded organisations throughout the UK to apply to be an RPS.
The idea of having Regional Partner Sites grew from discussions with the crew and general public who have made the annual trek to the Green Gathering Festival since it morphed from the remains of the late, lamented Big Green and moved to its current site in a beautiful wooded valley by the banks of the Severn in Chepstow. Green Gathering became a charity in 2014 and it’s wholly owned subsidiary company, Optimistic Trout Productions runs the entire event as a fundraiser for the charity.
This enables us to be exempt from VAT, keeping ticket prices as low as possible to maintain our focus on running an affordable, family friendly event. Our crew and ticket holders come from all over the country and many of them are involved in local organisations that share our aims but up until now we have not been able to devote the time to building a national network by making collective applications for grants and sponsorship that would benefit the Gathering as an annual event but would also support the development of more local projects.
This changed for the better during the dreary days of Lockdown, where the Arts Council for England (ACE) and the Welsh Office made grants available to recognise our national importance and to ensure we were able to emerge intact for this years long awaited Gathering in August. Our focus over the next few years is to work in partnership with organisations throughout the UK to promote the Green Creed at the regional and local level.
To become a recognised Regional Partner Site, you and yours should have the following attributes:
1. Share our core aims and objectives
2. Have a track record of local action
3. Be willing to act as a GG local information point
4. Be happy to be included as a beneficiary in our national funding and sponsorship applications
5. Be able to hold at least one public event per year from a short list that includes , amongst other contributions, skill workshops, best practice seminars, open studios, community action work parties etc.
6. Be able to identify a representative team of up to 3 of your members to benefit from free tickets to come to the Gathering to be able to join in our proposed GG council meetings
7. A contribution of £100 a year
If you would like to know more about our plans for Regional Partnership Sites, contact us at or feel free to call Tony Phillips on 07764922385 for a chat. If you are planning to come to the Gathering this year there will be a scheduled meeting for anyone interested in the RPS concept in the Green Gathering Greenstage in the Campaigns Area on Friday 4th August at 5pm. Everyone welcome!