Lots to catch up on. I’ll try and space it out a bit.

To be continued…


  1. on the subject of “Birmingham Words wonders why Artsfest doesn’t get more press outside Birmingham. To which I would add, why doesn’t it get more press inside Birmingham. Nobody I know outside the arts world knows it exists.”

    ok two points(of many I won’t bore you with) here. Who outside of Birmingham cares about artsfest…. ?? that clearly has no clear “story” no clear “message” no clear “brand” no “hook” and no clear “selling point” or whatever it is that national press types need. oh yeah and does artsfest advertise with any national press? No. That’ll be why it gets no reviews….its all a game you see. You pay for ads, you get press etc.

    second point. Can someone just remind me what press we do have in birmingham that is even capable of covering artsfest? There’s ryans gig guide, media assassin, created in birmingham, bimingham its not shit, brumblog and real press……the sunday mercury? The birmingham post? metro news? does anyone read it? would anyone look there for news of artsfest? Do any of the journalists have time to do anything on artsfest? They’re all playing on facebook or msn messanger or updating their blog that nobody reads but themselves reads see, no time for journalism. Bit like me, no time but for commenting on others hard work….

  2. In their grudging defence it’s not just Artsfest that gets these blank looks. Nearly ever event that’s supposed to celebrate or represent Birmingham gets blank looks. I don’t expect everyone to want to go but I’d expect them to have formed some kind of opinion about them. For me personally I’ve only been aware of or most of it since I actively started looking.

    I have an inkling that when other cities have their [Cityname] Festival everyone in who lives there knows about it by osmosis because it permeates the comminties. Or something. I don’t see that here.

    And no, no big answers. (Other than the usual – sack half the councillors, dismantle AWM and put someone with half a brain in charge.)

  3. Yes Artsfest isn’t alone, Fierce gets exactly the same blank looks, as will Gigbeth, the Book Festival, the Comedy Festival (even the Beer Festival which is next week I think).

    Some of the PR isn’t good enough (although I saw a billboard for Arstfest by Perry Barr Dog Track yesterday*, first I’ve ever seen), some of the press isn’t up to the job, but the wider failing to _engage_ is the issue I think.

    I’d wager that in Edinburgh (based purely on no resarch and having read Trainspotting) although the locals in the wider communities know the festival is going on, but I doubt they go along to it.

    A few reasons why Artsfest (purely to pick an example as it’s coming up) won’t get more local or national coverage:

    -No huge sponsors, which would have a vested interest in getting coverage (good thing tho? hmm)

    -For the NEWS media (Midlands Today, Central News, the Mail, WM, etc) Nothing inherently newsworthy, no HUGE stars, no outrage, no newsworthy “awards”, no angle for them basically – in any case they will have no reason to cover until it’s happening. News media reports on things that _have_ happened normally – it takes one hell of an angle or celebrity to get them to do a preview.

    -It doesn’t have a focus – “arts” is a bit wide isn’t it?

    -It’s not long enough, no chance of articles in The Guardian for example about how ‘I’m going to a show a day’ or ‘I’m trying to see a band on every stage’ – endurance pieces frankly, there’s loads.

    -It’s not coherent enough – two weeks to go and we still don’t know the where or when or even what of most of the acts. People plan their lives ahead much further than they used to.

    And to end on an anecdotal note, my mum would love events like this – she reads all the papers watches the TV, but she still asks me “is there anything going on?” every couple of weeks. So it really doesn’t get out there – she can work most websites or email lists, and I’ve patiently to showed her bloglines and signing her up for event listings. But do we have to do this for everyone?

    *It wasn’t very good or very informative, but at least it was there.

  4. jon

    I spoke to Dave Freak at What’s On recently, and he told me that he hadn’t had anything from Artsfest letting him know who was playing. The line up has been confirmed for ages! What are the Artsfest PR’s playing at?

  5. ok people… so what are we to do about this problem. Are we going to have to kidnap prominent local politicians or councillors, or editors, or journalists, perhaps stick them in a boot of a car and hold them hostage for the sole purpose of publicising a local arts event or is there some way all these events can actually break through and reach people? Are we talking ritual initiation for all music or arts journalists to ensure they always cover local events now and in the future or fear some kind of terrible end if they don’t? How do we do it? I’m all ears. Please don’t tell me to seek funding, just not that one, i’m talking more effective strategy, not money here. Any positive suggestions? ?!!

  6. Robert

    Interesting thread …

    Speaking to a few journalists recently, space seems to be one issue (ie. not enough pages) while another is definitley getting the information through. With somethng like arts fest, it’s my understanding that the council press office release the informaiton that they want the journalists to know. So even though there might be brilliant things going on all over the place, the press officers are there to push only selected things.

    I can also understand that the journalists have to get big names interviewed as that is what sells newspapers/ drives traffic to their sites, but if you speak to them, most are more than happy to cover local arts events if they have the space/ information in time.

    You can moan that the jounralists are rubbish – and some of them might well be – but it’s a very grey area. People connected with the arts need to make better contacts and provide better information, and journalists need to be more open, and readers also need to be more responsive.

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