Our Big Gig: using music to bring communities together

Local councillor Steve Lugg, promoter and organiser of Ferndown’s Big Gig, talks about the 2015 event and how they successfully used a bottom-up approach to build community cohesion.




Steve Lugg, a local councillor for East Dorset District Council, wanted to build a Summer Festival from the ‘bottom up’, to inspire the local community and encourage residents, businesses and charities to come together. By working with the ‘Our Big Gig’ brand, who offer funding and support to places holding community music celebrations across the UK, he was able to do just that.

The Our Big Gig brand aims to give local musicians and singers a chance to showcase their talents, build their confidence, potentially develop careers, and improve community cohesion by bringing everyone together. In East Dorset it has also had a number of additional benefits, including the successful promotion of East Dorset’s contemporary music hub in Ferndown through the use of Barrington Centre and local pubs, along with other occasional venues to hold events. Ferndown’s Our Big Gig also always supports and raises awareness of local charities with a bucket collection during the event, which attendees are welcome to donate to if they wish to support the cause.

In 2014, on a hot summer night, our first ‘Big Gig’ was held at the Nightjar pub in Ferndown town centre, featuring six local artists and headlined by the youthful, talented Chris Payn, and local music legend Matt Black.

From this small start, 2015 grew into three events, with the Big Gig finishing up the week. The week started on Tuesday 7th July with a Meet the Author event held at Ferndown Library, where 34 people heard from three local authors David Hough, Carol Rivers and Janine Pulford, and local Poet David Arkell. It was a hugely exciting and symbiotic partnership between the County Council, individuals and the local community.

Music then kicked in on the evening of Friday 10th July, with our semi-acoustic session in the bar at the Barrington Theatre, home of the charitable Ferndown Community Association. Amy Williams, Jenny Oag, and band Teen Ambition, which features fourteen year old sensations Calvin Glen and Nicole McNally, dazzled the crowd along with our amazing headliner, Catherine Gray.

It was then time for the Big Gig, hosted by Sam and the team at Pure Drop Inn Ferndown. Audio was provided free by Timbrewulf. The evening featured slots by Tanya Louise, Karl Vogts, Amie Knight, Emma-Jane Toop and was headlined by Ferndown’s very own, and brilliant, Paul Kinvig!

All in all the 2015 event was a massive success, with more than 150 people from across the community getting involved. The statutory sector, private businesses, local residents and charities all came together to roll up their sleeves and organise an event that truly celebrated local talent and harnessed community spirit. As is often the case, the sum is greater than the parts - when everyone gives a bit, the community gets back a whole lot of community glue through these events.

So what’s happening now?

From September through to April, Steve will be running ‘Live: Ferndown’, the area’s now-famous music talent contest, won by Emma-Jane Toop in 2015. Then Ferndown Culture Week 2016 will be worked up for July 2016 featuring even more music, another spoken word event, an art exhibition and a Flower Festival. Local businesses and organisations will also be invited to get involved and add to the Directory of events throughout the week.

Is this achievable if you only have a little time?

Well, Steve works full-time, is currently the Chairman of East Dorset District Council, a town councillor, a trustee of the Ferndown Community Association, a father of five, grandfather of four (soon to be five), and, with Cathy, a foster carer. He is also a keen allotment gardener and lives life to the full. So what are you waiting for? Get your community involved now!

Steve Lugg is a local councillor for East Dorset District Council. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or head to Ferndown’s Big Gig Facebook page.

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