Paul Dunton reflects on what he’s declared to be the best Local & Live festival yet thanks to record audience numbers, fantastic weather and brilliant musical performances
Having now had time to catch my breath, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on the recent Local & Live Music Festival. Following on from the success of the 2021 event, we have spent the past year working towards the goal of once again utilising Calverley Grounds and the various fringe venues that included The Forum and The Sussex Arms. Funding has proven very difficult to come by over the past year which I am sure is a knock on effect of the current financial climate. I sense there is still much uncertainty still lingering following the after effects of brexit and Covid enforced lockdowns.
Local & Live is a free entry non ticketed event which costs close to £60,000 to stage and mid July we found ourselves at a crossroads, our projected funding deficit was well over £20,000 and a decision needed to be made as to whether we cancel or scale down to a smaller indoor format. However to our pleasant surprise the tables were unexpectedly turned at the end of July when local business Maxipay Accounting Services signed to be headline sponsor. This significant financial boost coupled with grants from The BID, numerous sponsorships and donations from the local business community and support and assistance from TWBC effectively saved the day and Local & Live 2022 could therefore go ahead as planned! My primary hope was that Local & Live would go on be a highlight of the summer, something for everyone to look forward to and enjoy, for the musicians involved, the local traders our sponsors and the local community.
Despite all the difficulties we faced over the past year, I really enjoyed organising Local & Live 2022 and I feel that we now have a solid festival team and format all in place that will enable the event to develop and thrive for years to come. Calverley Grounds once again proved to be a wonderful location as a central point for the event and I know all the musicians involved really enjoyed performing on such a wonderful stage to many thousands of people.
“The atmosphere at this year’s event was something very special, we felt so much support from the audiences”
Thankfully, the weather gods gently smiled on us, I can’t express how relieved I was to see the sun shining even if it was in small doses! The event’s attendance hinges on good weather to a degree although saying that, come wind, rain or shine, Local & Live has a dedicated following that I know would turn up no matter how inclement the conditions. It is this whole hearted support for the event that gives me the confidence and belief to keep doing it every year and I am ever appreciative to everyone who came along and supported this year’s festival.
The atmosphere at this year’s event was something very special, perhaps the best yet, we felt so much support from the audiences and there were so many amazing performances especially from our headline acts, Noble Jacks, Suncharmer and Dull Knife. It was also wonderful to see the likes of young up and coming singer-songwriters Elliot Graham open this year’s event and Geordie Hunter perform her first ever festival gig. That is what Local & Live is all about, showcasing a melting pot of creative grassroots music from seasoned campaigners like the above mentioned headline acts to new artists making their first steps. This year’s programme featured acts of all ages, incredibly our youngest performers were just 12 years old. In recent years I feel Local & Live has now developed a more laid back relaxed festival vibe. Calverley Grounds is definitely its natural home and sometimes it is the little touches, having a face painter, arts & crafts, the food & drink quarter, various stalls and stands, all of which help to embellish the event and give it the family friendly festival vibe.
Local & Live 2022 could not have happened without the help of my fellow trustees. Peter Taylor, Barney Jameson, Nigel Bent, Charles Armstrong, Paul Coe, Stephen Goodwin and Jason Dormon. Their collective support has been integral to the festival’s success. Huge thanks is also owed to all our amazing volunteers, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the event running smoothly and to plan. They are all individuals from the local community who gave up their time over the weekend to help our cause. On the photography side of things I am indebted to Nigel Martin, Sally Anne Low and David Warren for all of their hard work covering the event across the four days capturing memories and moments to inspire and document the 17th edition of Local & Live. They kindly give their time for free and do a fantastic job.
I would also like to award a special vote of thanks to all of the musicians who performed and all the Local & Live Angels, Maxipay Accounting Services, our diamond sponsors – Cripps Pemberton Greenish, Rotosound, Berry & Lamberts and Sankeys. All of our food, drink and crafts traders, The Tunbridge Wells Forum and The Sussex Arms, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, The BID and Tunbridge Wells Together, all of our big screen sponsors, David & Elisa Briers, Catherine Hazel, Lauren Grant, Frances Hocking, Black Deer Festival, Sean de Burca, Friends of Calverley Grounds, BBC Radio Kent and our media partner the Times of Tunbridge Wells for all their support and assistance.