Lytham Festival changes dates for 2018

Cuffe and Taylor, the organiser of Lytham Festival, has announced that the next edition will take place from 23-29 July 2018 to avoid clashing with the Ricoh Women’s British Golf Open held at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club.

The company reported that this year’s event drew to a close on Sunday 6 Agust having attracted 60,000 concert-goers along with the many thousands of people who have visited Lytham to be part of the five-day event.

“Lytham Festival 2017 has been tremendous,” said director Peter Taylor. “I am delighted with the success of the event and it never fails to please me just how our audiences react to such an eclectic and varied line up over the course of the festival.”

Taylor said the company is already well into the planning of Lytham Festival 2018 and  the full line-up will be revealed in due course.

Following on from consultation with all local partners, the organiser decided to bring the 2018 show a week earlier.

Taylor explained: “It makes absolute sense to do this because of the Ricoh Women’s British Golf Open. The Women’s British Golf Open is an international event for the Fylde Coast and by having Lytham Festival a week earlier it means we extend the benefit of these events to business and accommodation owners while also ensuring the Fylde Coast, once again, is put well and truly on the map.”

The Ricoh Women’s British Golf Open will take place from 2-5 August 2018.

Association of Independent Festivals announces Festival Congress 2017

Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced its annual event will return to Cardiff for its fourth year in October.

The Festival Congress will play host to an incredible ‘Pseudoscience’ theme, set to play homage to the nonsensical and weird experiments made by scientists and festival promoters alike.

The standout event will be led by a keynote by artistic director and CEO of Manchester International Festival, John McGrath, in addition to quick fire talks from renowned author Zoe Cormier about her book Sex, drugs and rock n roll: The science of hedonism and the hedonism of science, and John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, who will speak about creative industry ‘red lines’ on Brexit.

There will also be a ‘Question time’ style panel exploring political issues in relation to festivals and featuring some leading lights of the independent festival world, with other key topics at the conference including event security, welfare, booking processes, up scaling small festivals and creative production. Another headline panel discussion will explore the next steps of AIF’s ‘Safer spaces’ campaign, which reiterated the zero tolerance approach that festivals have to sexual assault with a 24 hour coordinated website ‘black out’ in May.

Held in Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) on 30-31 October, the Festival Congress is a major fixture in the festival industry calendar.

“We’re back for a fourth year with Festival Congress, the ultimate conference and festival party for the independents,” said AIF co-founder, Rob da Bank. “We’re proud of how essential this event has become and all at AIF HQ are buzzing to be joining the dots between festival promotion and science this year, in what promises to be a packed and extremely fun couple of days in Cardiff.”

Attendees include notable festival organisers from the likes of Glastonbury, Bestival, Boomtown Fair, Kendal Calling, Shambala, End of the Road, Liverpool Sound City and many more. The event also invites speakers from every corner of the music sphere with a speaker alumni of Jude Kelly OBE (artistic Ddirector, Southbank Centre), Huw Stephens (Radio One and Swn Festival co-founder), Simon Parkes (founder, Brixton Academy), Professor Tim O’Brien (Jodrell Bank observatory), Robert Richards (commercial director, Glastonbury) and many more.

Festival industry reacts to Comprehensive Spending Review

The festival industry has reacted to the lack of announcement on festivals and business rates as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review yesterday.
The business rates review will now revert to back to March 2016, which gives the industry more chance to drive its case home to the Treasury.
Festivals and events have concerns about recent changes by the Valuation Office Agency to their business rates liability. Many festivals and events have started receiving business rates bills backdated by five years for land which has previously been exempt from business rates.
Paul Reed, general manager of Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), said events and festival organisers are hoping that the Government will use this as an opportunity to take action on business rates for our sector.
“The recent imposition of business rates on festival land by the Valuation Office Agency is already having far-reaching consequences, not only on the viability of festival and events but also on the rural landowners and communities that host them, and has the potential to reduce significantly the economic benefits festivals and events bring to rural areas,” he said.
“We have responded to the Business Rates Review consultation with an industry-wide coalition of 720 events and festival organisers, and demonstrated to Government how the VOA’s actions are endangering the significant contribution our sector makes to the UK economy and rural communities, but festivals and rural landowners will continue to suffer from the VOA’s unfair and inconsistent application of business rates unless action is taken.”
Support was also voiced by Melvin Benn, managing director, Festival Republic, who said he looked forward to continuing to engage with the Government ahead of the Business Rates Review announcement in March next year.
“The success of the UK festival and events industry is testament to the Government’s commitment to promoting the UK as a global investment destination, and festivals are a Great British success story unrivalled around the world,” Benn said. “However, the Valuation Office Agency’s change in approach, meaning that now business rates are being applied to festival sites, could have serious consequences for the sector and for the rural communities that benefit economically from festivals and events. We hope that the Government will seek to take action on this issue in the coming months.”
Independent research conducted by Optimity Advisors has demonstrated the significant economic contribution festivals make to the rural economy, and highlighted the risks of these benefits being lost should festival and events land continue to be classed as rateable by the VOA.
The research indicates that the application of business rates has the potential to impact festival viability, cause festivals to cease to operate or even move abroad, with the resulting loss of economic benefit to the UK and our rural communities.
The impact on rural landowners and farmers hosting festivals is also potentially significant. For two of the five festivals examined by Optimity’s research, business rates represent nearly 75 per cent of the profit made, or up to 370 per cent if backdated by five years.
This additional cost pressure would mean that rural landowners could be forced to stop hosting festivals entirely, or look for alternative land uses, which could lead to a significant loss of income to the local economy.
The industry has expressed concerns to David Gauke, financial secretary to the Treasury, and officials at HM Treasury in recent months.
The Business Rates Review announcement is now expected in March 2016.

Me, Myself & I: Wayne Hemingway talks events in the modern age

The co-founder of Red or Dead and chair of South Coast Design Forum launched the Vintage Festival in 2010 and his events portfolio has since diversified to include cultural and community focused events including Dreamland, Urban Village Fete and the Classic Car Boot Sale

This is an expanded online version of the exclusive interview that appeared in September’s Access All Areas.

Screen shot 2015-10-01 at 12.57.12

BANKING ON SUCCESS: We put on Vintage New Year’s Eve with the assistance of South Bank, and we have such a ball working on it. It makes money, and quite a lot, for the South Bank, which is a really important organisation. When you see 3,000 smiling faces dancing the night away, along with us, it’s a great feeling.

CHEAP AND CHEERFUL: By doing a festival in Morecambe, and getting 40,000 people together, the local community and businesses really get behind it. The council do put in some money but it’s very low. Visitors can pay nothing to get around most of it, or bring income by buying food, or going to a venue and paying a fiver to listen to Northern Soul or rock ‘n roll. You can even go and have a rave to Hacienda DJs. It looks like a festival and feels like a festival, but you don’t have to pay any money, and everyone makes their little cut at the end of the day and they can’t really lose money because of the way it’s structured.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING: Who’d have thought a festival called Festival of Thrift would be so popular. We have banks and energy companies supporting it, and it’s now a national festival. It costs nothing to get in, you can’t sell anything unsustainable there however. There are rules to it. It has become the festival for sustainability and community values.

DEFINING VINTAGE: Punk was about taking the past and making something modern. Vintage is not retro. I am dressed 100% in vintage clothing now, but if I said I bought it in Paul Smith you wouldn’t question it. These shoes are 43 years old.

MY KIND OF PEOPLE: A lot of the people who go to our events are like us – they’re a creative community who make their own fun and resent spending a lot of money on seeing bands.

SHARED VISION: I have a good contact list, gained throughout my career, but the high profile people who help out do so because they share the vision of creating great free events. We have people like artist Tracey Emin and Vic Reeves involved in our events. However, they don’t get paid for these as they know our events have never been about grabbing a top headliner and charging a premium.

COMMUNITY SERVICE: When we sit down to plan and discuss event concepts, we look at what we can provide for a lot of people for free, or for a low price point. We want to give a lot of people a great time and not break the bank. We ask how we can bring a community together and how we can work with the council to create this.

IN HOUSE TALENT: Our events will always be creativity and design led and we have used some fantastic festival organisers to help us achieve our visions. Often we use the staff we have in-house at Hemingwaydesign to create the events.

CORE BELIEFS: We put on events because we should. We’re in this to create festivals that sum up what festivals mean to us. It’s genuinely about giving back. We’re not doing it for turnover or for a bottom line.

TRANSFERABLE SKILLS: We’re very politically-minded and in a lucky situation. We made our money in an earlier life and continue to have success with our various projects and regeneration schemes but we still like that idea of giving back. We have experience in music, fashion and regeneration, all of which are involved in creating a festival.

EMBRACING CHANGE: It’s an amazing time that we live in. In the early days of Red or Dead, I had to appear on programmes like The Big Breakfast two days a week, whereas now our brands are probably more famous than they were then. I use various social media channels and barely do anything commercial, except I might occasionally go on Newsnight.

DIVERSE ATTRACTIONS: Most things exist because of market forces, and if you don’t like something, you go out and create something different. We, as designers and event organisers, have philosophies about what matters in life, but they are really just what matters to us. There’s room for all tastes in our culture.

BRAND NEW: We’re selling sofas, kitchenware and fabrics with the Vintage brand, so we’re probably the first brand that started as a festival. Successful events can really put a city on the map. Liverpool, for example, has entered the top five most visited cities in the UK. Events are great at creating jobs, filling hotel rooms, marketing a destination and creating happiness. We just had one of our most successful events, The Vintage Festival Presents: Transatlantic 175 – from The Mersey to Manhattan, where 250,000 people turned up in Liverpool to celebrate 175 years of transatlantic travel.

SCALE WATCHING: The first year of Vintage Festival was hard for everybody involved. We tried to reach a certain level, and the people turned up, but I don’t think we had realised how tough it was to do something on that scale.

GENTRIFICATION: Vintage is about timelessness. It is a taste thing, and if you have good taste you have a very good chance of getting on in life. It’s not good taste to put a load of substandard toilets in a row at a festival. It’s not gentrification to work hard on providing good toilets; it’s human decency. It’s not gentrification to take a bad part of town with social problems and make it more liveable. If that’s gentrification, then it’s a very good thing to do.

GETTING CATTY: One of the greatest event moments in my career occurred at Transatlantic 175 when we set a new Guinness World Record title with ‘The Very Big Catwalk’. We had 3,651 people on a catwalk and gained some great coverage, including on The One Show.

Curating Latitude: Creative director Tania Harrison speaks

Following Latitude’s 10th outing, Access talks to creative director Tania Harrison (left) about the festival’s evolution, keeping the audience on its toes and the benefit of taking risks.

How did Latitude’s eclectic vibe evolve?

We had a plan starting out, and it was very different. People were quite negative about bringing theatre into a field, alongside literature and music. There were literary festivals 10 years ago, but generally festivals were three bands and a hot dog stand. I love music, but also theatre and dance, and we realised that other people like that too.

Did you ever have any doubts?

Jon Dunn, who used to book music at Latitude, said in the first year, ‘What if nobody likes what we like?’ I’d never really thought about it like that. Clearly that would have been a bit of a stress for [organiser and founder] Melvin Benn financially, and it was a big risk.

Why the big push for less stereotypical festival acts like theatre productions?

We’ve really pushed the art end of Latitude with exhibitions of contemporary art, working with numerous companies like Sadlers Wells. Now I have nearly 300 theatre shows across different stages. Ten years ago, theatre was more of a middle class, middle-aged thing, or at least it seemed like that. Now the attitude is, ‘Of course I’d go into the Literary or Spoken Word arena’.

How do you come up with a theme every year?

We love working with creativity and music. It’s not about imposing the same ideas; it’s more about deciding on themes. This year, for example, our theme was ‘For Richer, For Poorer, For Better, For Worse’. It was inspired by the £35m flats in One Hyde Park juxtaposed against the lack of affordable housing throughout the country. I commissioned artists and companies to create work inspired by that idea. We’re into working with culture and what people are thinking.

What is it like working with Melvin Benn?

Working with Melvin is brilliant; he really is at the top end. We’ve worked together for 21 years and he’s very generous with me, but not afraid to veto ideas. I had this vision of dancers dancing in a Perspex box on top of the lake, which was impractical in reality. It’s a great collaboration; he allows his team to bring what they can creatively.

How much work goes into creating that specific Latitude atmosphere?

All of the contractors here bring so much. The lighting in the trees, the magic, the atmosphere, lakeside stages and so forth. It’s great for suppliers to be given a platform to push boundaries. There’s been some serious work put in here over the years.

What were some of the challenges this year?

I’m always pushing for budget – that’s my biggest conversation with Melvin, and he’d laugh at that. Some things are tangible, some aren’t. For the 10th birthday this year, I asked what we could do for certain budgets, and Melvin asked what we would do to top it the next year. But that’s always the case; we’re always looking to go bigger.

This interview, conducted by Access editor Tom Hall, appeared in the September issue, available to read here.


In pictures: Stageco’s ‘Kinetic Cathedral’ at Electric Daisy Carnival

More than 35,000 revellers flocked to Milton Keynes National Bowl on Saturday (11 July) for Electric Daisy Carnival, which featured a ‘Kinetic Cathedral’ stage by Stageco.

The British edition of the dance music event featured sets from dance legends Tiësto, Paul van Dyk, Hardwell, Ferry Corsten and Steve Aoki.

Taking place the National Bowl in Milton Keynes, the stage measured around 28 metres tall and nearly 100 metres wide

The kinetic energy-themed design featured giant owls bookending the stage, art installations and a diverse range of special effects including around 3,000 pyrotechnic sequences.

Electric Daisy Carnival was originated in the US by Los Angeles-based production company Insomniac, which recently announced plans to expand the Electric Daisy Carnival experience to Brazil and Japan.

Insomniac’s main players on the ground at the UK show were production director Alyxzander Bear and festival experience director Conor Bowes, while production manager Neil McDonald and project manager Jen-e Jones handled the local aspects on behalf of promoter Festival Republic.

McDonald said: “With respect to the acts, this is one of the few events that you can confidently say is more about the audience and the spectacle than anything else. It’s one of the hottest events out there right now.

“EDC’s approach to creativity is more familiar to America and Europe than the UK. I don’t think the UK had previously seen a dance event with such a creative drive to it and, of course, that impacts tremendously on the design of the stages and the site, and the whole approach to the event.

“Here at Milton Keynes, they’ve borrowed from a model that has been a tremendous success in America, drawing 135,000 people a day in Las Vegas [where Insomniac presented the ‘largest stage in the world’]. In consultancy with Stageco’s team, Insomniac worked out how that Stageco structure would accommodate all of the scenic elements, such as the owls. What we’ve done here is to effectively mimic what they’ve achieved in America, using as much European-based production as was feasible, although it still entailed six containers of equipment coming over from the States.”

Led by Wies Baaten, Stageco’s crew of 12 arrived on-site three days before the show to unload 17 trailers of equipment and begin the stage build, with assistance from 12 local climbers and 10 stagehands from Showstars.

“Having worked on EDC’s Las Vegas edition, the Milton Keynes stage has been quite easy to build, particularly because the climate allows us to work during the day, which isn’t the case in Vegas,” said Paul Van Belle, Stageco’s head of technicians at the event.

“It’s a very beautiful structure and what I particularly like is the absence of skins – it’s completely open. So it’s all about our black steel, the scaffolding and decking, although we also assist with other aspects of the set such as Jora Entertainment’s cladding, the video screens, the DJ booth with its scaffolding, PRG’s stage lighting and Britannia Row’s PA hangs.

“Our first concern is the base structure – if you don’t do it properly, especially with a stage design like this, you’ll run into serious trouble. These days, we work with a theodolite that helps us to ensure we are completely level. It’s very time consuming but essential.

“The only significant issue for us is time pressure – to have the grids up in the air, ready for production after the second day, and then have the entire structure completed within three days. It’s a bit of a push but we get there. Until our structure is in place, everyone is just waiting around.”

McDonald added: “From my perspective as a production manager, it’s the best green field site to work on in the UK,” he said, “but it is also great for the audience because it was purpose designed to meet all the criteria.”

Bennett Sell-Kline for Insomniac 3 kineticCATHEDRAL 3 MC kineticCATHEDRAL 1 MC kineticCATHEDRAL 2 MC Neil McDonald + Jen-e Jones MC Jake West for Insomniac 6 kineticCATHEDRAL 4 MC kineticCATHEDRAL 5 MC kineticCATHEDRAL Rear MC Paul Van Belle Stageco MC

In pictures: Latitude Festival’s 10th Anniversary

Latitude Festival celebrated its tenth anniversary in style this weekend, with headliners including Portishead and secret sets from Thom Yorke and Ed Sheeran.

The event, held at Henham Park, features a selection of music, comedy, literature and arts for 35,000 revellers.

This year, swimming and punting in the lake was introduced, and luxury camping was provided by companies including PodPads.

Friday’s headline saw Mecury Prize-winning Alt-J pull the crowds to the Obelisk stage for a night time lazer light performance followed by a secret Ed Sheeran appearance at an intimate woodland stage, announced hours before on social media.

On Saturday The Charlatans and Laura Marling performed, while Badly Drawn Boy performed a set, during which he complained about his £5,000 appearance fee, vowing to stick to smaller gigs.

Portishead headlined the Obelisk with Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke joining the band for a rendition of ‘The Rip’ before he headed to the I-Arena to perform a secret set with Nigel Godrich, who produces both Yorke’s bands, Atoms For Peace and Radiohead.

On Sunday Veteran Welsh rockers the Manic Street Preachers delivered some of their greatest hits before
Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds delivered a much-praised set.

Festival Republic’s Tania Harrison (interviewed in full in Access‘ upcoming online-only edition) told Access: “All of the contractors here bring so much. The lighting in the trees, the magic, the atmosphere, underwater stages and so forth. It’s great for suppliers to be given a platform to push boundaries. There’s been some serious work put in here over the years.”


In pictures: Truck Festival celebrates biggest year

Truck Festival welcomed 6,000 through the gates this weekend.

The festival, which took place this weekend (18-19 July), welcomed 120 performers to the Oxfordshire countryside.

Headline performers The Charlatans and Basement Jaxx helped celebrate Truck’s 17th anniversary.

Early bird tickets and a payment plan options have today (20 July) been released for 2016’s event.

The Charlatans blended a hit-heavy set with newer material, while Clean Bandit’s performance wove original chart-topping tunes into their own re-workings of club classics.

Earlier on the Truck stage, guitar music reigned with Augustines, Don Broco and Honeyblood.

On the Market stage, Mercury Prize-nominee, Ghostpoet, and New Yorkers Darwin Deez delivered sets.

“A huge thanks to everyone involved and everyone who came along. This year’s Truck saw some brilliant sets, it’s a thrill to see our crowd enjoying the music so much,” Truck Festival marketing manager Matt Harrap said.  “Our biggest audience to date is a sure sign that the interest in Truck shows no sign of slowing down. Looking ahead to 2016 we’ll be working hard to ensure that we follow up on this year’s success with another great event for next summer, we hope to see you all there.”

Photo credit – Entirety Labs Ross Silcocks

Serious Stages discusses The Other Stage at Glastonbury

Serious Stages has revealed the challenges it faced designing, manufacturing and installing The Other Stage at Glastonbury Festival.

Serious Stages has been appearing for four decades at the world’s most famous festival, which ran from 25 – 28 June.

“The ever-increasing production expectations of bands combined with Michael and Emily’s desire to give audiences the best experience led to discussions about creating a new Other Stage better suited to Glastonbury,” said Serious Stages managing director Steven Corfield.

“Those conversations went through our CAD designers and engineers, on to keeping our fabrication facility this spring manufacturing the new flat roof system. Then our on-site team under project management of Simon Fursman have done a phenomenal job constructing this new stage for the first time at Glastonbury.”

The new look Other Stage had a total height of 20 metres and an overall width of 43 metres, along with the addition of the installation on the front facade by artist Joe Rush.

The 777sqm main deck, with a 190sqm rear shed combined to deliver performance and working areas. There were fully enclosed wings and dual ramps upstage left and right giving extensive loading facilities.

The five tonne capacity per cross stage truss, plus three tonne capacity on the cantilever mean that the roof can take 35-40 tonne weight loading.

For Glastonbury 2015 Serious Stages again provided almost 60 structures, including the four main stages, the Temple and the Ribbon Tower, plus multiple indoor stages, media platforms, television camera towers, PA towers and structural supports for video screens and viewing platforms across the 900 acre site.

For pictures and video of Glastonbury 2015’s build highlights, including Arcadia, Block 9, The Common and The Glade, click here.

In pictures: Robe at Glastonbury

Robe deployed more than 600 lights on various Glastonbury stages, including Arcadia’s giant spider spectacular show and underground dance destination Block 9.

Lighting equipment for both these areas were delivered by Colour Sound Experiment, who joined several different rental companies involved in supplying Robe products, including the South West Group, which lit the trendy Park Stage and BBC Introducing showcasing rising talent, and DPL who took care of lighting at the West Holts stage.

Locally-based Enlightened Lighting from Bath, took care of lighting a number of areas, all using a backbone of Robe kit, including the moving and grooving Sonic Stage in the Silver Hayes dance area; the multi-dimensional Mavericks venue with poetry and the spoken word during the day and cabaret through the night; the vibey Glasto Latino hub and the eclectic Summer House.

Arcadia’s incredible new “Metamorphoses” Spectacular featured a primarily Robe moving light rig, including six BMFLs on the perimeter towers and Pointes rigged on the legs and belly of the spider. The 30 minute show’s lighting has been evolved by the Arcadia creative crew and the supply is co-ordinated by Arcadia’s technical production manager, Tim Smith.

Lighting design for Block 9 is created and co-ordinated by Alan King and the imposing 50ft high post-industrial power facility of Genosys this year was lit with 17 Robe Pointes and 16 LEDWash 600s among other lighting.

The animated club dancefloor in NYC Downlow was illuminated by some club classics including Robe 575 Scans – chosen for their speed and reliability, while two BMFLs highlighted a container that looked like it had been dropped from a great height and embedded in the ground, signalling the start of the Block 9 adventure.

Colour Sound also supplied lighting to The Glade stage – an area co-ordinated and designed for them by Jasper Johns of Fruit Salad Lights – complete with 24 Pointes, central to the lighting rig.

The Park stage lighting was co-ordinated and run by Ben Perrin and Mark Bott of the South West Group, and also featured BMFL Spots and Robe’s new LEDBeam 1000s plus Pointes and LEDWash 600s.

West Holts LD Adam Power’s production design included 24 Pointes, 24 LEDBeam 100s and 12 LEDWash 1200s. The crew chief was Darren Parker.

The Sonic stage buzzed with the energy and sounds of some superlative acts including Leftfield, Roni Size’s Reprazent and the iconic Grandmaster Flash who played a set on Sunday.

The lighting rig included 24 LEDBeam 100s, 24 Pointes and LEDWash 600 looked after for Enlightened by Paul de Villiers.

On Mavericks: Anthony van Sertima ran lights utilising 600E Spots, LEDWash 600s and LEDBeam 100s, Sam Walder lit the Summerhouse with Robe LEDWash 600s and ColorSpot 575E ATs and Mark Aitken looked after the Glasto Latino with ColorSpot 575E ATs. Last, one of the Silent Discos was lit by Jenny Howes using ColorSpot 250E ATs, LEDBeam 100s and 250 CT Club scanners.

Three of Robe’s ‘Plasa Students’ were also working on site, all proving that the student scheme, an initiative of Robe UK, is a potential stepping stone into the industry.

Robe Glastonbury 2015 BBC Introducing gla271552413 Robe Glastonbury 2015 gla251815197 Robe Glastonbury 2015 The Park gla271746547 Robe Glastonbury 2015 Arcadia gla252108473 Robe Glastonbury 2015 The Glade gla262104310 Robe Glastonbury Sonic gla271732079 Robe Glastonbury 2015 West Holts gla271948520