A three-day arts festival in Preston is due to return in 2018 – and has been praised by artists and visitors alike.
The Lancashire Encounter ran in September and included a torchlight procession through the city.
More than 28,000 people visited and took part in the Encounter with 15,000 people coming for the procession on the Saturday night alone.
Preston City Council has released a detailed report looking at how the festival went and what needs improving before the biennial returns.
The economic impact of the festival showed the average visitor group spent nearly £30 while in Preston and more than half of those surveyed said they were likely to visit Preston again having been there for the festival. This means the festival was worth around £820,400 to the city’s economy.
28 different acts performed at the festival and 90 per cent of people said performances were either good or very good.
The city council faced criticism in its survey for the procession of light, with artists and spectators saying road closures were not publicised far enough in advance and a better diversion route wasn’t put in place.
A statement from the city council said for the 2018 event they would be: “building the festival brand and reach, continue the momentum of the festival during 2017 building towards 2018, further embed the festival across Lancashire communities, partners and artists and building the capacity of the festival team with marketing, outreach resource and an artistic director.”
Read more: The Encounter to be showcased in photo exhibition
A council spokeswoman confirmed they were hoping to put on some kind of event in 2017 to ‘keep the momentum’ from the festival.
Feedback from visitors also showed they felt there wasn’t enough ‘Lancashire’ in the festival, with it having a Preston bias and focus.
– The festival was either the main reason or part influence for visiting Preston for 61% of visitors and 96% of visitors undertook at least another activity whilst in Preston. Drink and meal 37% and shopping 40%.
– 88% of visitors rated their overall experience as good or very good and 73% of artists rated the festival good or very good at attracting a wide range of visitors, 86% encouraging people to experience great art, 89% showcasing the region’s artists.
– 51% of visitors stated they hadn’t attended an arts event in the past 12 months and 78% stated they are more likely or much more likely to do so following their attendance at Lancashire Encounter.
What did you think of the Encounter? Want to see it return for 2018? What could be done differently? Let us know in the comments below