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					Festival and Events Feedback Survey Report

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

Level of Response The survey was circulated to all fabric members, and creative practitioners in the district who had attended or expressed an interest in the last festivals meeting, or the previous creative networking meetings. Of the 309 individuals contacted, only 36 participated in the survey, with 2 additional individuals sending comments via email in lieu of a response. fabric was disappointed by the low level of response. It was not clear whether this was due to a general lack of interest in issues such as the significance of festivals and events in Bradford, questions regarding the relevance of the survey itself, or dissatisfaction over existing arrangements regarding Bradford Festival and other festivals and events programming in the district. BRADFORD’S BIG SUMMER (Q1) Awareness of Bradford’s Big Summer Across the range of events that were part of Bradford’s Big Summer, there was a greater level of awareness of the individual events than of them being part of Bradford’s Big Summer. Most people enjoyed the events that they attended. Saltaire Festival was the event most people were aware of, followed closely by Bradford Mela, and Bradford International Market was the event that most people recognised as being part of Bradford’s Big Summer. (Q2) Other events believed to be part of Bradford’s Big Summer Participants wrongly believed that Basketball Barmy, Saltaire Arts Market, and Bradford Arts Trail were also part of Bradford’s Big Summer, with the most confusion surrounding Bradford Arts Trail.

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(Q3) Suggestions of Future Events Participants wanted to see the restoration of music and street arts activities in the city centre, including events that used to form part of Bradford Festival. Other suggestions included an expanded Book Festival, a comedy festival, and environmental awareness raising events.

(Q4, Q5) Reasons for Attending / Not Attending Events Participants clearly stated that their main reason for attending an event was due to an intrinsic interest in the event, but their main reason for not attending was due to not seeing any marketing or publicity for the event. This suggests that a greater awareness of individual events would have resulted in a higher turnout. (Q6, Q7) Response to Bradford’s Big Summer In principle there is support for the idea of pulling together events and festivals in Bradford under one banner, but there was a mixed response to the overall success of Bradford’s Big Summer. (Q8) Suggested Improvements to Bradford’s Big Summer Participants saw increasing the effectiveness of marketing and publicity for individual events, and the earlier planning and advertising of events, as key issues, and also to a lesser extent the effectiveness of marketing and publicity for Bradford’s Big Summer. (Q9, Q10, Q11, Q12) Bradford’s Big Summer - Marketing and Publicity Bradford’s Big Summer was most visibly advertised via leaflets and flyers, and promotion via fabric, though opinion was divided over the effectiveness of the publicity that it received. The majority of participants did not use or see the Bradford’s Big Summer website, and of those that did most gave it a negative response. Of the 17 comments made about the marketing and publicity for Bradford’s Big Summer, all of them were negative or critical. These criticisms included little or no publicity and marketing for events, not enough advance notice for the events that were promoted, problems with the design and content of the Bradford’s Big Summer website, and concern that this was little more than a branding exercise which detracted from the identity of individual events.

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(Q13) New Events and Innovations There was a marked positive response to the new events and innovations, especially to the International Arts Market, though it was suggested that the Art Fair and International Market be staged in separate locations. It was also suggested that the BD-Y Youth Festival needed to have its individual identity reinforced.

(Q14) Other Comments (Open Field) Responses indicated concern that Bradford’s Big Summer drew exclusively from existing festivals and events such as the Illuminate programme and Bradford Festival, and contributed nothing in return. Although there was support for the promotion of arts activities in the district, the pulling together of festivals and events under one banner was seen as damaging to the uniqueness of the individual events. Bradford Festival in particular effectively disappeared, and it was noted that the very individuality that attracted people to attend such events, had been lost. Serious questions were also raised about the rationale behind the selection of events to be included as part of Bradford’s Big Summer, and the lack of funding for the events and activities themselves.

BRADFORD FESTIVAL

(Q15) Awareness of Bradford Festival Across the range of events that were part of Bradford Festival, there was a greater level of awareness of the individual events than of them being part of Bradford Festival. Most people enjoyed the events that they attended. Bradford Book Festival and the Big Gig at the Love Apple both had a stronger identity as part of Bradford’s Big Summer, whereas BD-Y Youth Festival and the Lord Mayor’s Carnival Parade were most strongly identified as part of Bradford Festival. Romeo and Juliet at The Priestley also had a stronger identity as part of Bradford Festival, but was the least recognised as a festival event. It was noted that 3 participants skipped Q15, whereas 0 participants skipped Q1, so this could account for a slight discrepancy in the results.

(Q16) Other events believed to be part of Bradford Festival Participants wrongly believed that Phoenix by Mind the Gap, Bradford Mela, and Bradford Arts Trail were also part of Bradford Festival, again with the most confusion surrounding Bradford Arts Trail.

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(Q17) Suggestions of Future Events Participants wanted to bring the city centre alive with a wide range of vibrant arts activities, including street arts, performance, theatre, live music, environmental arts and community arts events. It was also suggested that Bradford Arts Trail should be part of Bradford Festival.

(Q18, Q19) Reasons for Attending / Not Attending Events Participants clearly stated that their main reason for attending an event was due to an intrinsic interest in the event, but their main reasons for not attending were due to inconvenient timing, not being interested in the event, or not seeing any marketing or publicity for the event. This suggests that more consideration needs to be given to the timing of events, and a greater awareness of individual events may have resulted in a higher turnout.

(Q20) Suggested Improvements to Bradford Festival Responses indicated that participants believed Bradford Festival could most be improved by the commission local artists and organisations to create new work, and more community involvement. The marketing and publicity of both Bradford Festival itself and the individual events that were part of the festival was also considered to be important.

(Q21, Q22) Response to Bradford Festival Opinion was divided over how participants rated Bradford Festival 2006. Most participants rated it as Average, with an equal number of participants rating it as Very Poor or Good, an equal number rating it as Poor or Very Good, and equal combined totals for positive (Good and Very Good) and negative (Poor and Very Poor) responses. Most participants believed that Bradford Festival had failed in the objective to ‘engage and inspire the creativity of the people of Bradford’, or that this question was difficult or impossible to answer. Of the 21 comments that were made about Bradford Festival in response to this question, most of them were negative or critical of Bradford Festival in comparison to previous years.

(Q23, Q24) Festival

Response to separation of Bradford Mela and Bradford

The majority of participants were aware that the Bradford Mela was no longer part of Bradford Festival, and of the distinction between these two events. The majority of participants remained undecided about the decision to separate the Bradford Mela from Bradford Festival; and of those that agreed or disagreed, most agreed with the decision. The lack of a strong consensus

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on this issue suggests that a clearer case needs to be made for the benefits of the Bradford Mela and Bradford Festival remaining separate. It was also noted that a large proportion of people who participated in the survey might not have attended this year’s Bradford Mela, as indicated by the responses to Q26.

(Q25) Suggestions for development of Bradford Mela and Bradford Festival Most of the comments that were received about the development of Bradford Mela and Bradford Festival as distinct events were positive and constructive. It was acknowledged that both events could be improved and more clarity was needed over what each event was intended to celebrate.

(Q26, Q27, Q28) Response to Bradford Mela Most participants could not say how they rated this year’s Bradford Mela, which suggests that they did not attend the event. Of those that did respond, most rated the Bradford Mela as being good or average. Although Bradford Mela was seen as a highly successful and standardbearing event, opinion was divided over how much this year’s Bradford Mela had managed to ‘attract local, regional, and national visitors to a major celebratory event inspired by Bradford’s diverse cultural heritage.’ The strongest message was that to do this Bradford Mela needed to challenge the perception that its focus was primarily on Asian cultural heritage, and that it needed to be accessible to the widest audience possible. Responses indicated that the layout of Bradford Mela was an improvement over previous years, but there were serious issues regarding its organisation that still needed to be addressed, and clear areas for improvement such as the need for a separate children’s area.

(Q29) Response to statements about Bradford Festival The majority of participants agreed that there should be a Bradford Festival, that is should be a central part of events programming in Bradford, should engage effectively with young people, and that it should showcase both local talent and national and international events. Most participants believed that Bradford Festival did not feel like a festival this year, or were undecided, and that the publicity and marketing for both Bradford Festival and Bradford’s Big Summer had been confusing. Participants were divided over whether Bradford Festival could be successful without the Bradford Mela, but the vast majority agreed that Bradford Festival needed to establish a clear identity for itself and that Bradford Festival needed to be done well if it was to continue.

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(Q30) Events that are essential to Bradford Festival Participants emphasised Street Theatre and Street Arts as being essential to Bradford Festival. They also highlighted schools and community programming, activity in Centenary Square and around the city centre, and the Lord Mayor’s Carnival Parade as being important elements of the festival.

(Q31) Things that Bradford Festival should achieve Participants emphasised that Bradford Festival should raise the profile of the arts within the District, develop the cultural and creative sector, bring communities together, and identify and support local talent.

(Q32) Other Comments (Open Field) Participants expressed concern that there should be funding to extend the range of arts events and activities in the district, and that Bradford Festival should be a key part of this activity, but also anger and dismay at how Bradford Festival was mishandled and undervalued this year.

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KEY ISSUES FOR FABRIC Arising out of the Festival and Events survey conducted by fabric a number of key issues emerge. Initially these will form part of the discussion on October 31st at the fabric meeting in the Bradford Gallery, Yorkshire Craft Centre. However, the summary of findings of the fabric survey raises questions that go beyond the immediate issues of the Big Summer, Bradford Festival and the Mela, raising questions about the ability of the District to realise the aims of the Strategic Arts Plan. The mission of the Strategic Arts Plan: To celebrate, support and strengthen the arts in Bradford To fully realise the dynamic contribution the arts can make to the development of Bradford district through their contribution to community, physical and economic regeneration. It is fabric’s view that the mission will only be achieved if there is within the District a thriving, well informed, supportive and fully engaged community of arts workers. The fabric survey has not revealed that to be the case currently. The fact that of the 309 individuals contacted only 36 participated in the survey is disappointing and does not reflect well anywhere. Key priorities of the District Events strategy are Bringing Communities Together & the Feel Good Factor Enhancing the image of the District & Developing Tourism Economic Impact – Direct and indirect Developing the Creative & Cultural Sector When the District Events strategy and the findings of the Festival review were discussed by fabric in February, there was an enthusiastic response from a large gathering. The summary of findings reveals a different picture. People continued, on the whole, to enjoy the events they attended. However survey findings and comments about the strategy adopted for the summer and the overall impact of the events are not, on balance, positive. Saltaire Festival and the International Market seem to be the only events to gain unqualified approval.

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The Big Summer Key issues and questions: What added value did The Big Summer concept bring? Should a similar overarching marketing strategy be used again? If so, how can any such concept work better to enhance existing events? Bradford Festival With just five events how could Bradford Festival’s primary purpose - To engage and inspire the creativity of the people of Bradford – be achieved?

Comments from fabric members on the diminished scale of Bradford Festival in 2006, combined with its separation from the Mela, and its disappearance into Bradford’s Big Summer have called into question its continuing existence. A half-baked Festival, cannibalised by other events, does not fulfil any of the key priorities of the District Events strategy. What effect would the disappearance of the Bradford Festival have on the artists, performers and creatives in the District? Would it increase or decrease the likelihood of the Arts Plan achieving its mission? How will decisions be made about the future of Bradford Festival and allocation of resources to it? Did the Saltaire Festival replace the Bradford Festival this year? The Mela fabric responses to questions about the Mela, indicating a perception of the Mela as in fact ‘monocultural’ rather than a celebration of diversity, come at a particularly sensitive time. What actions can increase the sense of inclusivity in the Mela? fabric needs to increase the diversity of its own membership if it is to be able credibly to participate in discussions on the development of the Mela. Organisation and forward planning This can only take place when budgets and available resources are known well in advance. This does not seem to have been the case this year. How can Festival and Events planning ‘get ahead of the game’?

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Partnerships and working relationships Clearly the ambition and expectations outlined to fabric members concerning the District Events Strategy and the Festival Review last February have not been met. The recommendations to Bradford Council for resourcing Bradford Festival and the Mela from the review do not appear to have been implemented, for reasons which remain unclear. Among those artists who have worked in Bradford Festival in the past there is anger, and a more general sense of disillusion with the Council. It is difficult to be certain, but this may well have been a factor in the modest response rate to the survey. The Strategic Arts Plan is due to be formally launched later this year. In the light of experience from this summer, fabric believes that greater thought has to be given both to managing expectations and transparency of process. Bradford Council is clearly the biggest player in the Strategic Arts Plan and their officers are the mouthpiece of the initiative. However all experience in successful regeneration points to the involvement and ‘project ownership’ of a wide range of partners who bring with them a range of resources.

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