Upfest

758. Stephen Hayles (Bristol)

A volunteer from Bristol has founded Europe’s largest street art festival.

Stephen Hayles, a former insurance broker turned art gallery owner, founded the festival in Bristol in 2008. The festival now attracts 300 street artists from 25 different countries, and 35,000 visitors attended the event last year. The festival has helped to support the regeneration of large parts of Bristol by working with local schools and artists to reinvigorate high streets across the city. Through Upfest, Stephen also supports the Bristol-based charity the National Association of Children of Alcoholics, which has raised over £40,000 from partnering with the festival.

In​ ​a​ ​personal​ ​letter​ ​to​ ​Stephen,​ ​Prime​ ​Minister​ ​Theresa​ ​May​ ​said:

“Your work with Upfest is helping to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of their background, and this ethos is inspiring volunteers from across Bristol. You should be proud of the scale of the project, which is now the largest street art festival in Europe.”

Stephen’s local Member of Parliament, Karin Smyth MP, said:

“I’m delighted that Stephen’s work creating and running Upfest has been recognised. The festival brings many people, both artists and visitors, to Bristol South and after it is over leaves us with some fantastic artwork to enjoy all year round. In addition to the positive impact on the community, the fact that Upfest has provided such large donations to the National Association of Children of Alcoholics is very important. Having visited the charity recently I am very aware of all the good work they do and how much this funding will mean to them.” 

Stephen​ ​said:

“I’m exceedingly grateful and equally surprised at receiving this award and the only way I can accept it is on behalf of everyone around me. So many individuals have come together and contributed to our festival over the past nine years, and in turn given support of our nominated festival charity NACOA (National Association for Children of Alcoholics), so really all I’ve done is given people the chance to get
involved.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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