4 minutes reading time (795 words)

A Festival in a Factory

Phew!!

What an amazing weekend. A whole year in the planning of the 2nd Annual Factory: Festival of Creative Arts. This year we wanted it to be bigger and better than last year. 

We named the event Factory because it is held on the site of the famous factory that was the Home of Cumberland Pencils. A gorgeous art deco building now refurbished and owned by Keswick Ministries as a home for their annual convention, now that Derwent have a new Factory at Lillyhall.

The event is organised under the banner of EVAN, an arts based network with members across North and West Cumbria. 

The small team of five organisers have met monthly, led by Helen Clues to get together the venue, refreshments and stallholders with the musicians organised by Tom Corda-Stanley. 

 This year the stalls were in the huge old packing hall, big enough to get everything under one roof.

In my experience, basic requirements are parking, toilets, refreshments and then build on that.
At one end of the packing hall we created a performance space and a cafe. Each day Stephen from the Moon and Sixpence in Cockermouth drove in to the hall to set up his mobile van to serve delicious cakes and drinks. In the centre our little group of helpers along with muscle from Phil built the stalls ready for the artists to come on Thursday afternoon to set up their stalls.
The room was big enough to provide wide aisles between stands and flexibility of table usage.
The strands of lights were magical, when the extra lights were turned on there was ample illumination. Though artists had been told that they could provide their own lighting as long as it had been pat tested. At the other end of the hall we created a workshop space.
Five workshops had been advertised and all ran with  enthusiastic attendees. The diverse topics included collage, painting, felting, drawing and fused glass.
On questioning the public we found different avenues of advertising had worked. Some people had read the Keswick Reminder, some had heard me on radio Cumbria and some had been attracted by the leaflets we had posted through their front doors on an extremely wet day the previous week.
Footfall was steady, we always knew Sunday was likely to be quiet with England in the world cup final and the venue is slightly out of town. However we had boards in town and road signs on all entry roads into Keswick.

 We are sure that this event will build both number of participants and audience in subsequent years.

The atmosphere was amazing inside. As one of the organisers I felt really proud of what we had achieved. We added to the experience with further refreshments from Shake Waffle and Roll on Friday and Sunday and Heavenly Fish and Chips on Saturday 

All the catering offered was of a high standard as tested by the organisers.

As is the case in any art fair, success can depend on who walks in the room and if they connect with your product. My mindset is that it's all about establishing a rapport. Chatting enthusiastically about art may not always end in a sale but may be a pleasing interaction that leads to future sales.

There is an element of luck but having a positive attitude and an obvious passion can create the climate for sales.

Creating a buzz around the show with friends and followers online before the event also brings in people likely to buy your work.

I'm fortunate to have lived and worked in the area and know a lot of people so really enjoyed catching up with some old friends. 

Sometimes a little bit of magic happens. A young couple who had just bought their first house were in the process of commissioning me to paint the house. As we talked it transpired not only had I already painted the row but that I had the original with me. They were delighted, so was I. What a beautiful coincidental moment we shared.

There are always conversations to be had afterwards, and discussions on how to improve year on year, will take place, but at the end of Sunday afternoon as we tidied up and took down the last of the bunting we were all immensely proud of the event and what we had achieved.


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Thursday, 22 February 2024

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