Derby Feste keeps the city's energy high

Fri 15 Jul 2016

Bob Rushton, Programme and Venues Manager at Derby LIVE gives his perspective of Derby Feste and how it has evelved over the years.

“In the early days of Festé, we had a workshop session to look at what the event meant to us all, and as part of that were asked to bring along something that we felt represented our view of Festé. I took a cabbage, with two googly eyes, that I’d named Cuthbert! That’s not to say that I feel Festé is a vegetable that needs battering into submission in an episode of Masterchef, but it was in response to Plunge Boom’s Vegetable Nannies show, which had been greatly enjoyed at that year’s festival. My view of Festé was embodied by Cuthbert, and the Vegetable Nannies: easily accessible fun; making the ordinary landscape unusual; family-focussed, cross-generational entertainment. I’m delighted that Plunge Boom are returning this year with their wonderful performance of Smoke, and know that will cause as much entertainment as their vegetable based shows!

“The spectacular, jaw-dropping, headline events from incredible International companies are, of course, the major elements of the festival, which help to attract audiences and media attention, and give the building blocks for further festival activities. The high-profile shows add the buzz, spectacle, rush of energy and large crowds that make the festival feel so special to so many people.

“Beyond these events, though, are many “Cuthberts”: Moments of surprise, as larger than life characters appear around a corner; unexpected dances in spaces where shoppers normally wander with heads to the floor; opportunities to engage with fantastic artists, on the streets, in your own city. In addition to the artists descending on Derby, there is a BR Feste 2011 - Maison Foo LIbrarians wealth of home-grown talent throughout the event. The Splash Stage was developed as an opportunity for Derbyshire artists to appear at the festival, and it is a great that this element continues, and grows, through the curation by Furthest From The Sea.

“For me, within Derby LIVE’s role as a partner in Festé, the festival runs like a thread through our, and the city’s, year round artistic programme. Being placed only a week earlier than Derby Folk Festival, gives the opportunity to keep the city’s energy high by making the two weekend events seem to last for two weeks and more. With that comes a high pressured period as the work with our Outdoor Events, and Technical teams juggle space, time and equipment to make both events flow seamlessly.

BR Feste 2014 - Lost Boys Punch and Judy“Programme Team discussions about possible companies begin soon after the previous festival, and then detailed scheduling, and wrestling with spreadsheets to plot acts and locations soon follows. Working closely with our Outdoor Events Manager, Mick Emerson, means that the production problems or opportunities are included in artistic decisions from the outset. Regular meetings to check progress bring the steering group together, and give an opportunity for colleagues from partner organisations to interact. The programming of the festival is a chance to look at acts that are very different to the usual indoor performances, and to positively input into the exciting, vibrant festival offering. And, of course, it’s a chance to enjoy a brilliant event!”