Artsfest “hailed a huge success”

Mango Trio

A press release was issued on Sunday evening by the City Council’s Marketing and PR Team.

The 10th annual Artsfest is hailed a huge success as over 200,000 people attended events and basked in the unseasonal sunshine taking in the UK’s largest free festival of its kind.

The highlight of the festival was the Classical Fantasia concert with CBSO, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Birmingham Opera in Centenary Square when a capacity crowd of 15,000 saw the internationally-renowned companies perform on stage for the first time together and received rapturous applause.

On Friday evening around 10,000 young people revelled to the sounds of the latest up and coming indie bands from the region, whilst down at Eastside, Curzon Street more than 3,200 people experienced BLAST (Fri and Sat evenings) which literally blew the audience away with a close encounter of the rail kind. The huge art installation included 30 steam boilers and a whistle orchestra, giant hot pipe organ and amazing pyrotechnics that lit and thundered through the Birmingham sky.

Saturday has seen the best numbers yet for the festival and more than 100,000 local people and visitors enjoyed music, street theatre, comedy and art in the city centre.

Birmingham Town Hall say hundreds of people visited, whilst the Museum and Art gallery saw its visitor numbers treble on Saturday alone, to 3,000, with a further 2,000 on Sunday to listen to music and choirs singing in its galleries.

Councillor Ray Hassall, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture said: “The UK’s largest free arts festival, Artsfest’s has been a resounding success with hundreds and thousands of local people and visitors enjoying the best that the city and the midlands has to offer in arts and culture.”

He added: “We will certainly will be looking at future ArtsFests and will continue to develop and improve this event.”

The remarkable weekend drew to a close with the finale Carnival, with participation from some of the leading Carnival Artists (including Someone at the Door Samba band, Off Our Trolley and Purple Mermaid Circus). From Central Square (Brindleyplace) to along Broad Street into Centenary Square, the sound of live carnival rhythms filled the streets. The dazzling costumes were made by young people from across Birmingham who joined the dancing throngs for the grand finale.

So that’s confirmation that Artsfest will return next year, despite scurrilous rumours to contrary.

Photo by myself of Mango Trio on Sunday afternoon.


  1. “The 10th annual Artsfest is hailed a huge success as over 200,000 people attended events”

    Here we go again then. question: who supplied these figures? were they a guess? Can they be verified?

    Question: How many people were in town anyway regardless of the events happenning? How do you effectively measure the turn out of an event like this? I don’t want to keep on about all this but I fear somebody in PR and Marketing somewhere is telling porkies again.

    I’ve heard several independent reports that Blast was by far the best thing this year and also one report that apart from Blast there was nothing of inspiration at all.

    How can events like Artsfest and indeed the oncoming event Gigbeth be measured?

    How can they be judged as a success or a failure?

    Will they always be a success based on the amount of money spent in making them happen? I can see it already gigbeth hailed huge success, we spent all the money and lots of people appeared to turn out for it. Hey everyone it’s a success. What can we do to demonstrate effectively what degree of success or failure these big budget events achieve?

    Wouldn’t it be great if there could be no dispute. Artfest was a success and here’s verification. heres Feel the Heat Compilation CD, here’s the evaluation and demonstration of success for the bands. Here are sales figures, for record sales, ticket sales, merchandise sales, publishing sales, synchronisation licences, and deals done as a result of the CD promotion. Here is feedback from the bands and all involved. or something similar. Any better ideas?

    I haven’t even had the energy to keep on about DEBRA DAVIS’ comments on the stirrer but not wishing to let you all down, here she is….saying that

    ..”there was “nothing self serving” in her desire to help local bands get wider publicity.”
    excellent, could she not have made a more effective use of the opportunity by inviting others to contribute to the process? Like people who might know something that she may find useful for the purposes of the project?

    Debra said
    “We simply thought bands might benefit if they got more publicity. I was quite excited and thought it was a good project.”
    Well done Debra, the project has brought them plenty of publicity but perhaps not for the right reasons. You could have sent them all up onto a tower block with a bag of glue in time for the 6 o’clock news telling them to threaten to jump if their music doesn’t get heard. you could also generate publicity that way but would it be suitable? has all the publicity generated through lack of coherent or well thought through, even “accidental” strategy been suitable?

    Debra said “”It started off as a promotional giveaway to conference delegates. Lots of organisations give away pens, mousepads and memory sticks. What I wanted to do was give away something sexy, and ‘hot’, and so many of the young artists in Birmingham are fantastic.”
    Excellent idea, who are the most suitable target audiencehere. Conference delegates? Who are you fooling here? You are using music by local artists to sell your conference delegates that your orgaisation is great. You do not appear to be doing the bands any favours to me. What I think you have been doing is this. you have told the bands they get publicity and promotion, but what you are actually doing is getting free content to offer to your conference delegates as “value added”. Words like exploitation of musicians for personal, professional or organisational gain springs to mind here. Am I wrong?

    and on the subject of research, consultation, strategy and execution of that strategy, what does Debra say? “All the tracks we heard were off myspace, and I selected them along with a young person from our office and Tom Lawes who produced it, and who is part of the creative sector.

    “It’s not all my kind of music but I kept thinking, would I want to listen to this on ‘Later With Jools Holland?’ And would my daughter who is 20 want to listen to this? And the answer was absolutely.”

    great. so what you’ve done is build a compilation on the basis of the follwoing:
    1.would it be something you’d hear on Jools holland?
    2. would your 20 year old daughter want to listen to this.

    Does this mean that anything that has never been played on jools holland or is not to be found in the music collection of your 20 year old daughter somehow irrelevant?

    I think if Debra as project manager had bothered with a small amount of “research” into how to do this effectively comments like this would never have been made: “I wish this hadn’t happened because I don’t want it to take away from the successful product we’ve got. I think people will want to hear it, and bands will want to be on it.”


    If that just isn’t enough she goes on to say “We’re trying to get more attention to the sector and that’s a really exciting idea.

    That’s the essence of what I’m trying to do – celebrate music. I’m a huge groupie, I love music and I think it’s really important.”

    Well, that says it all. We have a “groupie” project managing a project that she admits “It’s not all my kind of music” and bases her decision making on whether her 20 year old daughter would like or whether she thinks its the thing that Jools Holland would have on his show. I rest my case, Birmingham is fxxked so long as people like this remain as Project Managers. Sorry people, it’s all over unless we can come up with something better. Come on Debra, you’re not going to take responsibility and resign over this, i’m sure you love your “almost the music industry” styled job so can you just promise NEVER EVER to try anything like this again without proper research and consultation? The Music Network meets on the last thursday of the month at 4pm at the TIC and there’s a host of other organisations and individuals you can contact, all you have to do is turn up and ask. You may even get some free tea and biscuits. And it’s free.

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