In the aftermath of the first Blackpool Independent Music Festival the inevitable question rises above the Fylde Coast in the cold light of day (and November!!) about how successful was the event really? Given Facebook was the central hub of information for the event the feedback available on there for the festival was mixed to say the least. Disappointing in some ways for some comments had been made on personal experiences and this, as an organiser, you can take on the chin as isolated incidents, but others had condemned the event before it even got off the ground citing Blackpool as the effectively the last place on earth you would try and organise such an event.
And as much as this is indeed could be a valid statement, (the lack of support speaks volumes for the belief and interest the council has in events such as these which is very frustrating when you see the likes of Manchester has a constant stream and schedule of similar events all year round in comparison), it is ironic to me as well to see the people making such negative comments about the Festival would class themselves as fully paid up members of Blackpool’s Independent Music scene themselves.
There is no easy way of making these things a success full stop never mind in the first year….to make these events successful and more importantly sustainable everyone who stands to benefit needs to be doing all they can to help put these events on. Bands and artists, venues and local media, organisers, punters and the local authorities.
So, how should we measure success here given the facts……and ensure the event is sustainable and if at all possible generates business for the local economy. If it can be proven that the event does this maybe then the support will come from the local authorities.
The question remains that if you want bands to play for free and maintain a level of quality to attract the crowds you have to give a reason for right bands to play and a reason for bands to bring their crowds especially from out of town; I would suggest that ‘Punk week’ with the rebellion festival shows that Blackpool can host a very successful national independent music event………so in answer to the first question, sorry but yes, it can be done! Creating a buzz about an event takes time, effort, money and a whole load of belief otherwise you don’t have a hope in hell!!
Therefore, in my humble opinion to pull off a free festival consisting of 14 venues and 140 acts all of whom played and opened their doors for free is an achievement in itself and shouldn’t be taken lightly. A 4 day festival was organised with absolutely no budget or financial support and was driven purely by the passion of the local venues and the bands and artists themselves.
And I would say on this basis alone it was a success.
Appreciation to the likes of Ed Blainey, organiser of Salford Music Festival, for his co-operation and faith in helping bring something like this to Blackpool and to Jon Bamborough to put his faith in that relationship in closing that gap between Blackpool and our Lancastrian brothers and sisters from 60 miles down the road.
We can all sit here in a our make believe entertainment armchairs and give our opinions of how we can improve the event, and maybe more of an industry presence would entice a few more quality bands to town; some thought needs to go in to that I think.…….but for now let the people who actually did get out of their armchairs and try and make a difference, the Blackpool Music Festival organisers and all the volunteers who gave up their time and money and let them enjoy the success of getting that all important first one off the ground and instead of derisory comments maybe we should all try a little harder to make this bigger and better next year!
This reporter was Aurovine’s very own Dave Blundell