Call to action as Lancaster Music Festival faces an uncertain future
The directors of Lancaster Music Festival are calling on the support of businesses and members of the public to help ensure its future success.
The festival, which celebrates its 10th year in 2019, will take place between October 10 and 14, but organisers say any future events depend on enough sponsporship from businesses and the goodwill of festival goers.
Festival director Stuart Marshall said: “There seems to be a perception, if people think about it at all, that this is something that the council organise. “We used to chuckle about that but in fact it does affect us as people think it will just happen each year because the council will put it on.
“And that affects us financially too – I once heard somebody say they wouldn’t pay £1 for a festival brochure because they’d already paid for it through their council tax, and we hear the same about the £2 Lancaster Castle entrance fee too.
“The reality is that the festival is organised by a small team of volunteers who put in over 3,000 hours - that’s 400 working days – for no pay and it costs us over £50,000 to produce each festival, so we need every pound we can get!”
Lancaster Music Festival took a break in 2017, and in its place, pubs rallied round to put on a scaled down version of the event called Lancaster Live.
It’s estimated that there were over 85,000 more people in the city during the festival weekend in 2017 which equates to an economic benefit of more than £2.4m.
Stuart said: “People see the pubs full to bursting and think we must be raking in the money but it’s the pubs and not the festival who benefit from that, as do other businesses around town.
“The festival has grown so much since its origins as a free event based just in the pubs and it’s the things that we’ve gradually added on over the years – the Castle stage, the quirky outdoor events in the squares and the international artists who come to play in Lancaster from all over the globe – that make it so special.
“We’re grateful for the funding that Lancaster BID provide each year which makes it possible for us to put on music around the city’s outdoor spaces but we really need businesses to chip in and provide some sponsorship and for people to come out and support the events in the Castle, to buy a T-shirt and buy a brochure to allow us to fund the other special elements of the festival and indeed to expand them.
“If they don’t then unfortunately there’s a good chance that 2019 will be the last edition of the Festival.
“Though if that turns out to be the case then we’re certainly going to make sure that we go out with a bang!”
Rachael Wilkinson, Lancaster BID Manager said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Lancaster Music Festival again next year.
“We’ve supported Lancaster Music Festival for 5 years and it has been a privilege to watch the event grow from strength to strength.
“The event dates for Lancaster Music Festival are some of the busiest days that our footfall cameras record, proving the economic benefit as a footfall and consumer spend driver in the city centre.
“Lancaster Music Festival is also a key tourism driver, bringing people from outside the district to visit our beautiful city, which is also beneficial to the hospitality and food and drink businesses which operate here.
“Events like Lancaster Music Festival, Light Up Lancaster and Lancaster Festa Italia are vital for helping to put Lancaster on the map as a great city of events and festivals.”
Brochures for Lancaster Music Festival will be available in the run up to the event, while T-shirts and other merchandise will also be available to purchase over the festival weekend.
Barry Mills, from Massive Wagons, who have been confirmed to headline the Friday night slot at Lancaster Castle, said: “We are so happy that Lancaster Music Festival is back, between us over the years we’ve spent hours as spectators all over town watching bands and drinking ale, for us it’s been a regular highlight of the year, no question about it, so to be asked to headline a night, and at the truly magnificent Lancaster Castle, well that’s just a gig beyond words, it’s gonna rock!”
The festival is now accepting artist applications. These can be made via the website.
Applications for artists from the LA1-LA4 postcodes are free.
Plans for next year’s festival also include corporate hospitality on a classic bus, a ‘search for a star” and songwriting contest, and a competition to bring back previous international artists. Tickets for Massive Wagons go on sale on Boxing Day.