When we launched our first music and arts festival, Fringe in the Fen, what was a late night brainwave quickly became a whirl of preparations. Over six short months we managed to attract international musicians and the entire Clare College choir to sing and play in an eight-day extravaganza.
It was a wonderful festival, which raised £22,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, and of course we are keen to do it again. Only with less stress. So what did we learn from setting up our first music and arts festival?
1 Think big. Think international. On the basis that if you don’t ask, you don’t get, last year we invited composer and conductor John Rutter. He came and was magnificent.
2 It’s never too early to start planning. The first Fringe was pulled together in six months, now there’s a year to go to the second biennial Fringe in the Fen, from 6-13 July 2013, and plans are well underway.
3 Start approaching sponsors from the word go. We are already in touch with some of the generous sponsors who made the first event possible and looking further afield as well. Macmillan is working hard with us to help keep costs down and ensure even more profits for the charity in 2013.
4 You can’t have too many balloons. Nothing says celebration more than photographs of people with balloons, and picture editors seem to love them. Young children too. Though you can have too many of those.
5 It might seem a big risk to debut an event in the midst of an economic downturn, but history celebrates risk-takers. We were amazed at the singers and artists we were able to attract to a very beautiful but small village in Cambridgeshire. As well as John Rutter and Clare College Choir the festival featured close harmony group Over the Bridge, a comedy night, marching bands, big band swing, a blues night and the grand finale, Proms in the Park with the East Anglian Chamber Orchestra, which rounded off with a great display from Kimbolton Fireworks. In fact we had 360 different musicians perform 12 different musical genres in 18 different locations throughout the village!
The audience came from even further afield, including tourists from Canada. Many wrote to us later to offer their congratulations. Next time we’re unashamedly thinking global.