Thursday, 10 July 2014

Poppedart / Slamfest look back SPECIAL

I’m still buzzing from two fantastic weekends for the centre of Rotherham.  We talk of “Regeneration” and “positive images” of Rotherham and here were two events providing fine examples involving the artists of Rotherham engaging with shoppers, arts enthusiasts, music enthusiasts and many people who would not normally give a second thought to the arts.

Better still, both events brought people into the Town Centre which has to be good for the economy of the Town. 

The Poppedart Festival, 28th June gave the Town a truly chilled out atmosphere.    Opened by Marilyn Munroe (was it Sylwia in disguise?) it boasted Magic Story Trails courtesy of the Grimm & Co., Buskers from across South Yorkshire, Stone Balancing (one for the fishermen amongst you), those Hobby Dragons being stuffed under the leadership of the Minx, Philip Padfield pulling big crowds while producing another piece of fine art from his spray cans, Jill’s super sketch workshop and Jemma’s super installation of yarn bombing at the Imperial Building which also hosted writer in residence Ray Hearne.  

Grimm & Co also installed artistic Mannequins created in two workshops into various shops across Rotherham, particularly Rotherham High Street.

And not forgetting the sensational new vinyl’s installed at The Old Market Gallery created by local artist Michael Latimer who gave a marvellous workshop during the morning.  The vinyl’s add a completely new perspective to the OMG, and really add the seal to the massive improvements the Gallery has made throughout 2014.    

A magic Day of colour made even more potent by the colour the huge team of orange clad volunteers brought to the Centre.  

The Masher estimate is that some two thousand towns folk were directly engaged at some level by the activities, either as short-term observers or participants in all the various activities.

Congratulations to all those involved for all their hard work and most of all to Rotherham for really joining in.   

Pictures from the Day can be found in fast moving slideshow format HERE

Then on 5th / 6th July Slamfest.   Keen followers of events will appreciate that 2014 was a year made particularly stressful by the withdrawal of a Sponsor and our failure to find replacements.   This resulted in a lot of very late chopping and changing of line ups, and eventually meant that we had to cancel the appearance of The Beat and Eddie and The Hotrods.   It also meant that we could not get the publicity out until very late in the day.  Indeed, our budget for publicity was wiped out by the loss of the Sponsor. 

The loss of the sponsor also meant that the planned Party in Clifton Park on the Sunday had to be cancelled.   There was a lot of speculation about our pulling from the Park, much of it wrong.   Of the Park issue I would add only this.  We were aware some charges would be made, however, our problem was with the charges they were to make on the stalls and concessions we attracted to pay for the infrastructure required in the Park for safety and comfort of the attendees.   It made the whole event uneconomic.   Perhaps RMBC Parks Management should adopt the policy of the positive policy of the Town Centre in seeking to attract people into the heart of Rotherham, especially those events that are NOT FOR PROFIT!

By default then the Slamfest3 format was as we first envisaged the event to be, a celebration of the creativity of Rotherham and South Yorkshire’s musicians.  

The Festival also proved to be our most successful so far, with an estimated 6,000 people engaged in the event throughout the two days…………   not all at the same time, but in total across the venues, and audience movement.  

The showcase Town Centre stage was again a major success with every Band and performer producing their very best sets.   From The Torn to The Orphans the Centre rocked, aided by the fantastic DJing of Fatpiggy between sets.  

The ever popular Punk Stage was this year focussed on The Trades, the 150 or so hard core punks supplemented by an absolutely staggering audience for Diamond Velocity, The Lurkers and 999 – no place to stand – no place to sit – and bar queues not seen for many years in the venue.   

The Bridge staged the Indie Stage!    This stage is fast becoming the nightmare of the Festival.   The venue was packed when the music was in action, but oh dear, four bands failed to show, three without notice.   The fact is that these three bands will not be invited again because, 1).  It is not fair on the Landlord, who had been expecting a bumper day and had it turned into a very hit and miss sort of day.  2).  It’s not fair on the list of bands we had to turn away and would have loved the opportunity to play as part of the Festival.  3).  It adds pressure to the organising team  that is not needed on the day of the event.  4).  It’s not fair on the fans of the Bands who turned up but then went off to find other music.   Tony the Landlord was not pleased, and suggested that we were choosing to support only our favourite venues, which was not true – he even went as far as to suggest that the Stage Manager we put in at the Bridge last year had organised the Bands; NOT TRUE.     Third year running that we have had problems with this Indie Stage, and it will now be in the melting pot to be cut from next year’s Festival – if there is one. 

The Acoustic Stage  Our Acoustic  Stage Manager had a nightmare mid-week when the planned venue Bluecoats, suddenly said that they could not do it!   She was lucky to find The County happy to host the Stage .  Noisy?  Yes, but my how the audience appreciated the live music – I popped in and caught the lovely Penny Cooke, back on the music scene after a three year break, the audience were standing on their seats and cheering.  I also caught the end of Paul Pearson’s set, and queue to talk to him after the music was brilliant and well deserved.  Thank you to Management of The County for stepping in and helping at short-notice.  

The second Acoustic Stage at The Imperial Building was a fantastic success as well.  Tim & co.  put on an amazing show with his team from Hangman’s Corner.   

Top of the pops though has to go to The Cutlers.   It’s fair to say that without their investment and commitment to Slamfest, Slamfest3 would not have happened.   10,000 beer mat, advertising for Chantry Brewery in the Brochure, complete hosting and Sponsorship of the Sunday event, and the building of an absolutely amazing outside stage that will be of huge value to the arts in Rotherham in general, not just to Rock Bands.  Worth noting that the art work created by Phil Padfield is worth checking out as a feature on it’s own.  On the Saturday they hosted the “Rock Stage”,while on the Sunday they hosted a complete mix of music and poetry, culminating in an appearance by Ed (Tenpole) Tudor.   

Chantry Brewery who along with Mexborough Exhausts showed fantastic faith in Slamfest to deliver, and were the only local businesses to make such an investment of money and faith.  

Our other main sponsors, Bristol Street Motors Commercial, were Chesterfield based, and Key Solutions are Doncaster based.   Our thanks go to them for their invaluable support. 

Our thanks to the amazing RMBC Town Centre Team, who again put in a 15 hour stint and provided invaluable advice and positive help, some of it well beyond the call of duty.   Without them the Festival would be impossible to put on.

Wouldn’t it be nice if more businesses in Rotherham showed the same faith in the event and could get their heads around the concept of NOT FOR PROFIT.  None of the RAE Leads are paid, none of the volunteers are paid, in fact many use their own money to make the event one that Rotherham can be proud of.  

And finally.  Wow – the fantastic musical talent we have in Rotherham.  This is what Slamfest is all about – the way some people often carry on one would think that it is in some way an ego trip for Mick, Dickie and Dan.   We only mount the event because we believe that once a year all the Bands that take part get an opportunity to play to new audiences, to showcase their creativity.  Without the close on 100 Bands and 400 musicians Slamfest could not happen – it’s the guys on the stage that create the atmosphere that draw the crowds.   We will be thinking about how Bands can best exploit the commercial opportunities that Slamfest offers for 2015.  

Pictures from the weekend can be found on the Slamfest Facebook page HERE  or the RAE site HERE in fast moving slideshow mode

If Bands would like to contribute to the discussion of what more they would like to see then please Email us at  

What form Slamfest4 might take will be the subject of considerable debate over the next few months within RAE.   What is certain is that we cannot mount the event without the help of Rotherham based Business, or proper funding.   We’ll be trying to tie the Festival into other activities to make it more attractive for Funding. 

And if we throw this out into the wider Arts Funding debate especially the importance of Art in the regeneration of the Centre of Rotherham on Saturdays then perhaps the powers that be should think about the real drawing power of professional artists compared to the printing of big sized pictures which do nothing for the arts economy of Rotherham and very questionable service to the regeneration that is claimed to be behind something like Gallery Town.  

As to organisational matters.   We have separated our Art Services RAS away from the live music promotion RAE.   This allows The Boards to Focus on their various activities.   

My attention now turns towards the development of the Arts Hub, the Diversity Festival and a little secondary project that might add to the arts facilities within Rotherham.  

More detail on all this as it all develops.  

Next Live at Trades Event -   2nd August   Fund raising Disco.           9th August  Foreigners Journey.

Tickets for all Live at The Trades Events  HERE