It’s official – Festivals are good for you!

Destination: Music – UK Music report 16 May 2011

I’m a big fan of music festivals.  I think they’re great.

They support the Arts, they support children’s creative and social development… and now it seems they support our economy in a huge way too!

Today UK Music released the biggest report so far into the economics of the lowly music festival and put figures against the live music industry’s financial contribution.  The results are quite staggering and make for very interesting reading if you’re into that sort of thing.  You can view the full report here.

Feargal Sharkey, Chief Executive of UK Music said: “I am hugely excited by the findings of this research. Its message is crystal clear: music provides a huge boost to UK tourism, it drives growth, it sustains thousands of jobs across all regions and it enhances our lives. I am optimistic that policy-makers will view this data and acknowledge there is even more we could achieve, especially when it comes to attracting overseas visitors. The rest of the world clearly recognises the importance of music to the UK. It is time we did similar.”

I’m with Feargal on that one.  It’s about bloody time the Government took heed of the fantastic hothouse of creativity we have here in the UK and gave it a little more co-ordinated support.  Our musical heritage is something we should all be very proud of, and if we can use it to boost our nation’s finances and support our jobs then that’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.

What surprised me though is that the report does focus its recommendations on using UK music events to attracts visitors and music tourists from overseas.  I think they are missing a trick here… I think we need to market UK festivals as a holiday destination for the domestic audience too.  More and more families are starting to go to a music festival in place of their summer holiday.  Green Man is leading the way in this trend by offering extended camping outside of the actual festival dates.  With Camp Bestival billing itself as a festie-holiday, and offering an extended night’s camping, I feel it’s only a matter of time before that too becomes a week-long family holiday destination.

Holidaying within the UK has a great many benefits and they are not all economic.  For example:

Families discover wonderful new places in their own country and learn about our culture and heritage.

Money is spent in often quite rural areas, many of which tend to rely on tourism for their sustenance.

UK money stays with the UK, supporting our own economy and jobs.

The carbon footprint of a domestic holiday is far lower than that of foreign air travel.

So while I agree that we forming a cohesive strategic plan to promote the UK as a cultural holiday destination for foreigners is a good thing, I do think we should start with ourselves.