Sarah Nulty, Tramlines festival: City pressure
March 29, 2018 9:19 AM
Sarah Nulty, Tramlines festival director
What is new for 2018 and the 10th anniversary?
We’re moving to a new site for 2018 (Hillsborough Park) and are moving all stages so we are a single site festival. We really wanted to do something different for the 10th anniversary, and the sites we were using limited us in terms of adding anything extra. It will be a more traditional greenfield format but still within the city. We’re staying on the tram lines so that we can remain connected with the city centre; our new site is 13 mins from the city centre and only five minutes away from last year’s main stage.
Moving to a bigger park means we can bring some more interesting elements back in. We’re going bigger than we ever have before with our lineup, and working with some key venues and artists in the city including The Leadmill and Jon McClure (Reverend and The Makers) who are hosting a stage on site. This year we are really keen to make sure that the offer is more than music: we’ve got a new area for kids, we’re adding comedy into our programme in conjunction with The Leadmill, and we’re working with local breweries to make sure that people get a real taste of Sheffield at the festival.
We moved last year out of the venues and into the parks as it was becoming more and more challenging to deliver the lineup that people wanted across so many spaces and to make sure each venue had the right level of act. Although the parks we operated from are amazing spaces, as the audience grew we needed to strip back on content in order to operationally facilitate the amount of people on site. Moving to a bigger park means we can bring some more interesting aspects in. We are moving slightly beyond the city centre, which was needed as it was becoming very congested. We always wanted to be a city wide festival and this just extends the footprint that little bit further.
Last year the festival launched a crowdfunding campaign. How much has been raised and how this funding has helped you to move forward?
The crowd fund campaign had nothing to do with the festival. It was an outside organisation that had approached us about wanting to buy the festival from us, but it never came to fruition.
The first Tramlines attracted 35,000 and has continued to see that level of footfall, what helped you achieve this?
I think the Tramlines weekend is bigger than the festival itself. It has become a fixture in everyone’s calendar. We invest more and more in marketing each year, but beyond that it is also the entire city putting on a show. It’s like a giant collective where each venue around the city pulls out all the stops, turning Sheffield into a giant festival site for one weekend. It’s a really unique proposition that attracts more people each year.
What would you say is the milestone of the festival to date?
Our first site move to Ponderosa Park was a real milestone; it felt like we had moved up the festival rank. Outgrowing our previous main stage site on Devonshire Green wasn’t something that we’d planned, but it felt like a real achievement to know that so many people were on board with what we were doing.
Tell us about your sponsors and partners and how much they play a part in making the event?
We’ve been really fortunate with sponsors and have worked with people who don’t just want to stick their name on something – they want to add to the experience of the festival. Last year’s Skull Candy tent kept the crowd happy in the pouring rain and their DJ completely got the festival and the crowd.
On a local level we are privileged to operate in a city with so many great promoters and venues and working with those people has helped us get to where we are now. Local stakeholders like the council and the universities, have always shown us support and are an integral part in producing the weekend.
Do you consider expanding the festival in any way? Please explain.
One of the reasons we have moved to a one site model is to really focus on the delivery. It’s important for us that as we grow, we absolutely nail the customer experience. Having our entire team on one site and not spread across the city juggling the offering will ensure that. For us, the focus is solely on Hillsborough Park this year, that’s enough expansion for now.