Festivals and the Living is Easy

I have just returned from the International Festival of Business 2016 in Liverpool. This was an amazing opportunity for the Business and IP Centre to coordinate business advice clinics with regional Business & IP Centres in the network in the ‘Business Advisor Lounge’ at the newly opened National Exhibition Centre. The centre officially opened the same day as my visit by Queen Elizabeth II HRH, and I was told by colleagues that there was a lot of excitement having such a high profile respected world leader visit earlier that same day.

I was quite happy to go back to Liverpool again after visiting Anfield Football Stadium on the outskirts of Liverpool for a Euro 2000 football qualifier with Wales against Italy in 1998, as the Welsh Millennium Stadium was under construction. I didn’t see much of the city then, but I recently went back to for work for the day to Liverpool Centre Library to meet their staff at the Business & IP Centre Liverpool.  As a city, Liverpool has benefited in regeneration from a lot of investment in the public realm, and it looks shiny and fabulous on the two sunny days I was there. There is old architecture mixed with the new, Beatles tributes everywhere, the Mersey River, Albert Docks and attractive pedestrianised shopping areas. It is definitely a city worth visiting!

 

The International Festival of Business had a few highlights for me:

  • The Business & IP Centre held an Inspiring Entrepreneurs event on ‘Going Global’ with an excellent panel of entrepreneurs with some practical insight and tips for taking your business global.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers had a stall at the festival to the theme ‘The Next Chapter’ as it was in my full view all day – and kept reminding me of my time working for them. When I worked at PwC, there was a good-hearted joke that you can go anywhere in the world and still encounter a PwC experience or meet someone with a connection with them!
  • The UK Trade and Investment and HSBC both had massive presence in the exhibition space for attracting inward investment, advice for exporting and creating business connections. Whilst I was there, the theme for the festival last week was ‘Energy and Environment’.  It was interesting to see the innovative productions on display and the eco-friendly and green initiatives.

As I was working in the Business Advice Lounge to give information to businesses – I was unable to attend other events on simultaneously. However, it was a brilliant opportunity to collaborate with our partners in Business & IP Centre Sheffield and with The Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

I have just told you a brief review on a serious business festival, but I am going to use this opportunity to write about the Summer music and arts festivals bloom in the United Kingdom. My childhood friends would remember that I love music, dancing, listening to the radio, going to live concerts and shows. It was this very same vice that was one of the attractions for me coming to London in the first place to study. Think of the heady 1980’s with Live Aid and MTV that were broadcast across the globe – Trinidad & Tobago never missed a thing! And so I was seduced by this global pop culture.

Festivals are big business and ubiquitous in the last 12 years. This summer, I saw many festival articles, poster advertisements in the London Underground and promoted on the radio. There are a few articles on the industry that have caught my eyes. The Guardian Newspaper informs that the industry attracts foreign visitors and that overseas visitors spent £852 a visit.  The article also refers to an industry report ‘The Real Cost of Festivals’ by Parcelhero and states that 40% of British went to one festival and we collectively spent £2.1 Billion Pounds.

There is always excitement in who is going to headline the main stage at Glastonbury to rock out the crowd, and it seems that the line up of artistes is crucial in this competitive market. The line-up and offerings must be attractive to sustain its clientele.

Coachella, the biggest festival in the world, sells 198,000 tickets and pulls in $84 million for the Californian event. The UK’s largest festival – Glastonbury – has a turnover of £37m but sees profits of just £86,000: less than 50p per ticket.

Source: ‘The Real Cost of Festivals’ by Parcelhero.

At work, I also have access to the Mintel market intelligence reports that I used to research the industry. Mintel’s ‘Music Festivals’ which states that festivals and concerts have been the fastest growing area of leisure spending over the last five years to 2015.  There is also a fun and informative article by a member of staff on The IPO’s blog on Festivals.

Locally, I have participated in the Walthamstow Garden Party, a community festival which is hosted by the Barbican Centre in London. The Barbican with the local council and community groups ( arts, artists, craft-makers and businesses) coordinate the festival. They all have been successful  in delivering a fine show with headliners such as Tiken Jah Fakoly, Femi Kuti, The Brand New Heavies and The Asian Dub Foundation (due July 2016).

As the Fundraising and Events Chair at The Lloyd Park Centre – we have hosted the Mini-Garden Party offering as a family friendly space. The garden party is great for showcasing the newly award winning park redevelopments (including the skate park and William Morris Gallery), ‘Useful and Beautiful’ creative local arts and crafts, fitness groups, real food market, poetry, music, DJs, disco and many other businesses. Personally, I think it has been successful with visitor numbers at 30000 per annum. The organisers have given the opportunity for the Barbican, Waltham Forest Council and local groups to collaborate, and get to know each other better to put on a fantastic community festival which is open and free for all. Yes…I said free!

Love Supreme Festival is held in Glynde and is hosted by Jazz FM.  The name is inspired by John Coltrane’s ‘Love Supreme’. Glynde is not to be confused with Glyndebourne that is famous for opera but you do have to pass through there to get to the festival.  This festival is aimed at the family friendly market and is in a very scenic field in Sussex. I have been a fan of Jazz FM for a while, as my ex-colleagues will tell you. Three years ago I tried the station’s competition for festival tickets for fun …and I actually won two free camping tickets!! There was no way I couldn’t go! I ended up going with two friends and our children.

For Love Supreme, I normally pitch a tent (glamping is too expensive for me!) with the help of my dear friends. This is my third year there and I am looking forward to the Funky Sensation Party on the Friday night. It is nice to be there in the inaugural night when campers are settling in before the busyness of the next two days. It is pure pleasure to see people filling in the Arena tent and dancing to Jazz, Soul and Hip Hop (correct me if I am wrong please). People dancing, the energy and movement remind me of Trinidadian Fetes or Parties where everyone just want to dance!

People dancing, the energy and movement remind me of Trinidadian Fetes or Parties where everyone just want to dance! …on Love Supreme Festival

I have been listening to Jazz for a few years before the digital age. Listening to radio stations on apps and digital broadcasting will enlighten jazz lovers to the biographies of the artistes, history of the song and allows you to share your (impulsive) experiences on social media. This is a very powerful immersive experience, so I am constantly trying to resist sharing songs – but have little control as you may noticed. I am sure you have experienced this too. I have written about this user experience in a blog post for work ‘Rock Stars to Classical Orchestras’ at the British Library. I think this must make me a fan, groupie or in this case – a ‘Jazzhead’. I am already trying to coordinate and organise which acts I am looking forward to seeing at which stage in the festival and at what time, so that I can see and not miss them! 

Feel it in your heart and feel it in your soul
Let the music take control
We’re going to party, limin’, fiesta, forever…

‘All Night Long’ by Lionel Ritchie.

One point that I would like to make is that festivals are fabulous outlets for businesses. I love all the various international food stalls being a foodie, fashion stalls, bookshops, coffee shops, bars etc. I understand there is going to be a new beauty salon and banquet style dining on offer this year. This must be a great opportunity for businesses with so many festivals in the United Kingdom. I would like to try another festival another time such as Glastonbury, Latitude and Womad. Womad is extra special to me as The British Library has recorded it for over 30 years.

Soon I will be there, lost in the music and experience with good friends (especially in the chaotic times of Brexit!). I hope you will forgive me for this self-indulgence.  It is one of my guiltiest pleasures and so I must try to behave. My only wish is that we’ll have some sunshine there.