Barnaby Festival 2016 breaks box office records.

Moon Rising 17

Organisers sold nearly 4,000 tickets, an average attendance of 88% with a value of £36,500 – almost double the number for the last festival in 2014 when 1,700 tickets were sold worth £21,500

There were 14 sell out shows including In Conversation events with Profs Brian Cox and Tim O’Brien to all five of the Barnaby’s Secret House Concerts. It’s the greatest number of tickets sold since the festival started in 2010 as a reinvention of the town’s historic Barnaby Fair.

Thousands more people attended the more than 50 free events and exhibitions taking place over the ten days 17 – 26 June.

Around 4,000 spectators watched the Barnaby parade, enjoyed street entertainment at Street Treats in Market Place and music venue Gimp Twister Music Lounge over the first weekend.

More than 1,300 tickes were sold for La Lune: The Astronomer’s Story, an immersive family experience from Wild Rumpus and LAS Theatre, making it probably the biggest theatrical experience in Macclesfield ever. At Macclesfield Library, The Planets: Guide to the Orchestra run by Macclesfield Music Centre attracted over 770 visitors who were able to see, hear and try some more unusual instruments including seven huge kettledrums. More than 700 adults and children visited the Deep Space and Solar Lab, where high security was in place around the real lunar and meteor samples which were on loan to the festival from NASA.

There were 179 love letters to Macc written in a project run by Arts for Recovery in the Community which are to be printed on silk by RA Smart and displayed at Macclesfield Library. Comic convention Macc-POW! featuring international comic artists and illustrators attracted 500 enthusiasts and generated so much interest that organiser Marc Jackson is exploring the possibility of a repeat event. There were unexpected hits like the lecture about Cheshire’s Sacred Spaces, in association with Macclesfield Lit & Phil, which had to relocate to another room when more than 80 people arrived.

Residents at ROAR (Reach out and Recover) were overwhelmed by more than 800 visitors to their ‘Yarden’ over the weekend of 25 & 26 June, with many visitors visibly moved by the impact on those involved in this collaborative project.

Brass enthusiasts gave a fabulous reception to Brass Band Bonanza and Macc Brass Band’s performance of new work ‘Contact Light’ narrated by Brian Blessed, with a combined audience of almost 1000 on Sunday 26th.

Back Wallgate Books, the secret back street micro library created by Barnaby’s Artist in Residence, poet Ailsa Holland has been so popular it is continuing to open.

Almost 1,000 people gathered on Christ Church lawns to see the spectacular ‘Moon Rising’, the finale of the magical adventure, La Lune.

The exciting programme of over 100 events resulted in more people coming to the festival than ever – more than the 13,000 visits recorded in 2014 and the final tally is likely to exceed this year’s target of 15,000. The team are looking at feedback forms and talking to local businesses to work out the benefit to the Macclesfield economy.

Karl Wallace, director, said: “We’ve smashed our box office records and attendance at events created with local groups and artists has been particularly high. Seeing how the arts and culture bring a town together, seeing young people being inspired. It’s really humbling. We’re delighted with all the positive comments but it won’t be until we’ve read and heard all the feedback that we’ll have the full picture. We won’t rest on our laurels. There’s a lot to digest and learn to help Barnaby grow and prosper.”

Organisers are now talking to retailers, community groups, artists, volunteers and sponsors as part of an assessment of economic and cultural impact of the festival. The full evaluation of Barnaby Festival 2016 will be available in September.

Images by Mick Steff (John Bramwell) and Fiona Bailey (Ben Balaam, James Costello and William Bainbridge at Love Letter to Macc)

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