Festival ready to go global

The Coustics performing at last year's St Annes Music and Arts Festival in Ashton Gardens
The Coustics performing at last year's St Annes Music and Arts Festival in Ashton Gardens

From St Annes to the world – instantly.

That’s the aim for the town’s Music and Arts Festival this year as organisers look to relay it live on the internet to an audience of millions.

The event, to be held in July, is set to feature three days of music from a wide variety of acts, most of them local, in Ashton Gardens.

Event founder John Bentham, a long-time music promoter and video expert, said the prospect of an online broadcast offers massive potential.

“What better way of promoting our town and the wealth of musical talent it offers?” said John.

“The technology is there and it can be done at minimal extra cost with so much scope for spreading the word to a massive potential audience about what we have to offer.

“It is increasingly done with individual concerts but a rare thing for festivals, although I am surprised it isn’t done more often. A key obstacle can be co-ordinating rights to material, but that wouldn’t be a problem with our event.

“Last year’s Festival went very well and we have put some footage from that online since and it was very well received.

“It is a golden opportunity to put St Annes and Fylde on the global map.”

John is planning for the live concert footage to be interspersed with recorded material and even promotional images of St Annes and the aim is for the footage to be shown via a video sharing site with accompanying promotion via social media.

Preparations for the Festival, set to be held over the weekend of July 21-23 are still in the early stages but among the acts set to feature are St Annes-based The Coustics.

The long-established band topped the bill on the final night of last year’s Festival and co-founder Liam McKenzie is excited at the prospect of the online broadcast.

The reach of the internet was illustrated in 2015, when one of the Coustics’ songs written by Liam and fellow co-founder Nick Corcoran was selected by US comedian Shane Dawson for an online video, which at the last count had attracted some 300,000 views.

“The importance of the internet can’t be overstated,” said Liam. “It is harder than ever these days to get a break in the music business and it is vital for performers to have an internet presence.

“The great thing about it is that, unlike TV broadcasts, once your performance is online it is there not just for the present but for people to keep coming back to, potentially attracting new viewers all the time.

“It’s fabulous to think of the St Annes Festival, Ashton Gardens and the town, of which we are very proud, being seen by a worldwide audience.

“It’s a great event and there is a lot of talent around - this is the ideal way of spreading the word as far as possible about what we have to offer here.”

John says it is also hoped to feature some arts aspects of the Festival, which are still in the early stages of being organised but will have the Pavilion in Ashton Gardens as a key venue, and the online presence has been warmly welcomed by arts festival founder Barbara Mackenzie.

The former town mayor is a hotelier in the town and said: “Anything that helps spread the word further about St Annes and what we have to offer here in Fylde has to be a good thing.

“We have a range of events locally which are growing all the time and potentially attracting ever more visitors and the more we can spread the word, the better.”

John has been encouraged that St Annes Town Council and a number of local businesses have pledged support and to help promote the Festival, a series of speciality music gigs are planned for the town’s Urban Arts Studio.

“We plan to relay some small local gigs online to test things out in good time for the Festival,” added John.