By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter / firstname.lastname@example.org
BRISTOL could have its own international music festival that brings A-list stars to the city.
But it will only happen with the support of the city’s businesses, according to one of the organisers of the See No Evil street art project.
The city council’s place making director Mike Bennett wants to build on the success of the repainting of Nelson Street to further promote Bristol.
Next month he will hold a meeting with major Bristol businesses, calling for financial backing for projects, and a new music festival is top of the list. But if he doesn’t manage to raise money off the back of See No Evil he is expected to quit the position.
Bristol already has smaller scale music festivals, like Brisfest and the Dot to Dot, but Mr Bennett wants one big event that can attract the kind of international attention the See No Evil project has seen.
The festival would capitalise on Bristol’s reputation as a groundbreaking city for music and seek to promote local talent. It would involve venues across the city, as well as outdoor locations like The Downs and Queens Square. That could mean the likes of the Colston Hall, the 02 Academy, St George’s and The Fleece.
Although it is too early to talk about who might play, the Evening Post understands Mr Bennett is hoping to attract household names.
He said: “Off the back of See No Evil, in mid September we’ll be inviting businesses and large companies from around the city who all agreed five years ago that marketing the city was important. We’ll be highlighting a list of initiatives we want to work on. The top project after the graffiti is a major international music event of some kind. I believe it’ll focus hearts and minds more than a list of things on paper. I’m in a lot stronger position to galvanise that than I was two or three weeks ago. I’m talking about closing the city, opening the venues, using the spaces and having a mix of home-grown music and big names.”
Mr Bennett and the council believe the positive coverage Bristol received from the street art event will encourage businesses to invest. Mr Bennett said: “It’s important businesses invest in the marketing of the city. It’s time Bristol’s businesses put their hands in their pockets. If they don’t then there’s no role for me.”
That means this fundraising drive is “make or break” for the place maker role, which has attracted controversy since it was created by the city council a year ago. In the year since the post began last September the council has not attracted major investment to help fund other schemes. Mr Bennett put £40,000 of his budget – that would have otherwise gone on his £72,000-a-year salary – into making sure the See No Evil project went ahead. The Evening Post understands that if he doesn’t raise a sum to cover his salary, and more funding for future projects by Christmas, he will leave the authority.
Council spokesman Peter Holt said: “If this project [See No Evil] is the success we all hope and anticipate it will be, then hopefully Mike will be able to raise more money from external partners in September onwards, and thus top up the pot that pays his salary, and cover the cost of the next big ideas. If he’s unsuccessful, in that fundraising effort, then the project will instead wind down, and he’ll leave.”
To date See No Evil has received widespread praise, attracting more than 16,000 people to the Saturday street party that celebrated the work being completed.