Monday, 18 October 2021

Festival goes cool on the classics

THE Henley Festival has been given a fresh image in a bid to attract wider audiences and premium sponsors.

THE Henley Festival has been given a fresh image in a bid to attract wider audiences and premium sponsors.

The rebranding exercise involves a new logo and website as well as signage at the event, which this year will take place from Wednesday to Saturday, July 10 to 14.

Organisers say they want the annual music and art festival to be a cool brand while remaining true to its roots as a not-for-profit event.

There will be more emphasis on attracting big-name contemporary acts rather than on the classics.

The festival has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with BMW, which will display classic cars at this year’s 31st annual event. Chief executive Gill Mitchell says the rebranding reflects changes to the festival over recent years, including luring leading performers such as Sting and Tom Jones.

She said: “We do not want to become a commercial event and we do not want to lose any of our ethos as the essence of the festival is quirky.

“We must not get away from our roots — we are not the O2, we are a summer party that people can go along to.

“We do not want to be elitist, we want it to be premium and glamorous, but you can do that with a picnic in the car park as long as you have got a lovely dress on.

“BMW is a premium brand and will promote us through some of the other big events that it does. I also think it will help with other sponsors.

“At the end of the day we are a local event so to attract a national premium brand is quite an achievement.”

Last year’s festival broke its own box office records with a line-up that included Sting, Olly Murs, Alfie Boe and Tim Minchin.

Ms Mitchell said: “This year there are some quite surprising things in there but we have to keep people on their toes.

“We are working on a limited availability of stars and we cannot afford the Rihannas of this world and groups might not be touring when we want them.

“Part of the reason for the rebrand is we have to appeal to a list including the London market because otherwise the artists will not have heard of us and they won’t come.”

The new website will go live on February 25.

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