Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival
Event Report 2013
The inaugural Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival was held over the weekend of 3,4,5 May 2013. Events included an Opening Night Party featuring live bands, live shows starring some of the biggest established names from the alternative cabaret and burlesque circuit, a newcomers competition, performer and skills workshops, a full day shopping event at The Town Hall and the launch of the Hebden Bridge branch of Dr Sketchy’s Anti Art School.
Organisational structure and background
Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival is managed and delivered by Festival Organisers, Heidi Waddington and Lizzy Goodman, supported by a team of freelance staff and volunteers. The festival is run on a not-for-profit basis, with the organisers paid a nominal fee for their work, capped at an hourly rate of £10 for a maximum of 150 hours each. The remainder of the work undertaken by the organisers is done so on a voluntary basis.
Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival was the first Festival of its kind in England outside London. The Festival is a stand-alone umbrella project and accounts are prepared annually. The Festival does not receive any public funding and is run to be commercially viable with all costs covered by ticket sales and a small amount of private sponsorship. Any shortfall in costs is met by the Festival Organisers.
The Festival Organisers made a commitment to donate a percentage of ticket sales takings to charity. This year’s charity was Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley. A donation of over £700 was made to Derian House this year (representing over 12% of total ticket sales).
Economic Impact on Local Area
Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival strived to use local businesses and services wherever possible. In 2013, The Festival used local accommodation, printers and designers. The only money spent outside the area was on payments to visiting artists and performers and specialist suppliers.
In 2013 the Festival held events in Hebden Bridge Little Theatre, Hebden Bridge Town Hall and The Crown Inn. In addition to paying a hire fee, the venues benefitted from an increase in bar take. On average, audience members spent £10 per head per event over the bar in Festival venues, generating an estimated £8000 in bar revenue over the weekend.
Using York Tourism Multiplier for measuring economic impact, it is calculated that the 2013 Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival generated over £15,000 income for the local economy.
Raising Hebden Bridge’s Profile
As well as several articles in the local press (HB Times, Halifax Courier, Hebden Bridge Matters etc) Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival attracted a considerable amount of national media attention and generated exposure for the town. It was also featured in International Trade Press. During the Festival, the “reach” via social media on the Festival Facebook Page climbed to 21,300.
The Festival team were followed over the weekend by a documentary film crew. The production company have already had interest from a national TV Station. The film should be finished in the autumn. Festival organisers hope to stage a special screening in Hebden Bridge.
Over 850 tickets were purchased
More than 70% of ticket holders attended more than one event.
On average, Festival attendees purchased tickets for 3.5 events.
Of those surveyed:
66% said they visited the local shops whilst in Hebden Bridge
74% said they ate in a local restaurant or cafe
37% drank in a local pub (one not used as a Festival venue)
17% stayed overnight in a local hotel or guest house
17% visited a local beauty spot
96% said they intended to attend the Festival again in 2014.
99% rated the event as Very Good or Excellent
The male/female split of those purchasing tickets was 86% female; 14% male
How far did ticket holders travel to attend the festival?
Live Hebden Bridge
Travelled less than 10 miles
Travelled between 10 and 30 miles
Travelled between 30 and 50 miles
Travelled between 50 and 100 miles
Travelled more than 100 miles
Support for the Festival
The Festival attracted considerable support from across the UK and from Hebden residents: we saw our web traffic triple when our festival banner was erected over the river.
Some of the comments we have received from those who took our audience survey:
“I was gutted that I couldn't get to more of the events over the weekend. I shall ensure that I've got my weekend pass in my sticky mit next year!!! From what I attended it was a very well organised event, with lots going on. I've had great feed back from friends who attended the whole thing!!! So roll on next year I say!!!”
“Congratulate yourselves on a brilliant event. Hope it continues in the future.”
“Loved how varied all the acts were. I go to Volupte a lot and whilst Volupte and London has top quality acts, they are not terribly democratic. Yours had old and young, beautiful and not. Straight, bi and gay. And comedic. That is the most important aspect of burlesque for me, comedy and a story in the sketch, Not just attractive woman fan dancing!”
“Think you did a really great job, loads of hard work am sure. Will stay overnight next year.”
Opposition to the Festival
We are aware that there are a small - but vocal - number of people opposed to the staging of a Burlesque Festival in Hebden Bridge. However, much of the criticism levelled at the Festival has come from people who clearly do not understand what Burlesque is.
To clarify, for anyone who is not sure, Burlesque is an artform. It is deeply rooted in Music Hall and Vaudevillian traditions and has grown out of the rich cultural history of Variety. Burlesque shows (and Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival in particular) include artistes from many different disciplines, not all of them strip tease artists. Performers are male and female; straight and gay; old and young; of varying body shapes and physical abilities (and disabilities) and from many different ethnicities.
Burlesque is a pro-feminist art form. It’s entertainment that pushes boundaries and celebrates diversity. Recently, feminist writer Germain Greer was asked in a Q and A session at Square Chapel in Halifax what she thought of the fact that Hebden Bridge had recently hosted a Burlesque Festival. She replied with "Well, from what I do know about it, burlesque doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, so it was probably a lot of fun"
The organisers are proud of what they achieved with this year’s Festival and are now making plans to build on this year’s success with another Festival in 2014. Dates for the 2014 Festival are 2 – 4 May.
*based on ticket sales data and customer feedback survey. 55 individuals responded to the survey.