On the up · 20 July 2018

From raving with your kids to remembering an old friend: UK’s best independent festivals

MAKEMORE Festival

Taking place in Victoria Park this summer, MAKEMORE Festival combines hands on workshops with more than 100 makers, and will feature demos from acclaimed food writers, live music, stand-up comedy and a series of talks.

When and why did you want to start your own festival?

Like all the best ideas, it started after a couple of pints! Last year we got to thinking about all the fantastic artists and crafters in London and beyond, and decided that someone should be shouting about them. And so the process of creating MAKEMORE began.

We met with makers across the country, toured their spaces and had a go ourselves. Now we have more than 100 artists, crafters, cooks and musicians on board.

In a world of more and more devices, screens and online interactions, we wanted to create an event that enables people to reconnect with the physical world around them. We want to show people how easy it is to get into making. There’s value in making – even if it takes a while to get the hang of it, you made it.

What was key in terms of getting started – how were you able to fund it?

We’re very fortunate to have the backing of Will Ramsey, founder and CEO of the Affordable Art Fair. His mission resonates with our own – giving people a space to discover new artists, try something new and get stuck in – so we contacted him through LinkedIn. He loved the idea of MAKEMORE so we met with him and within 30 minutes, he was sold! It’s a pleasure to have him on board.

What market research did you do beforehand?

We started with a simple idea to run a community craft market and we were so inspired by the makers that the opportunity to put on a festival of making basically presented itself. We work a lot on intuition and an open team dialogue. But strictly speaking, we should have done more outreach and crowd surveys. You have to trust your judgement.

Has it been easy to forecast costs?

It’s been fairly easy to forecast costs, but forecasting cash in and out has been a challenge. We’re a totally new kind of festival and the sales pattern is not far off guesswork. You only get to understand the pattern after the first event. There’s relatively little opportunity to adapt as you go because the data isn’t reliable until close to the event.

Do local authorities offer enough support to independent festivals in terms of planning and licensing?

We’re working with Tower Hamlets and the planning and licensing process was relatively straightforward because of the low impact nature of an arts and making festival.

What do you enjoy most about putting on a festival?

A big part of the process has been finding makers to take part in the festival. It really has been a fantastic experience getting to know each person or business and how they contribute to the maker movement in their own unique ways. We’ve got food writers, bakers, photographers, clay modellers, street artists, bee keepers and so many more craftspeople who will be sharing their skills through hands-on workshops and demonstrations.

What festival do you aspire to be like?

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival was a big inspiration when we started to plan MAKEMORE. It’s an incredible celebration of arts and culture, brings people together from all over the world and caters for all ages. It’s a hub of creativity, and we hope that MAKEMORE can grow and develop as they have done.

What is the biggest challenge when hosting a festival?

There will always be issues when it comes to putting on a festival, especially for the first time. Legality, funding, health and safety, scheduling and getting the word out there are all challenges, but it’s part of the process and we’ve got a fantastic team working to ensure that MAKEMORE is a success.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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