Access All Areas June 2019 - Page 18

JUNE | OPINION Yaw Owusu: A man with a vision What influenced the line-up this year and what was the criteria for the festival? I’m lucky that in my role and with this festival, I don’t have any such restrictions in regards to programming. Yes, it needs to reflect the city and our relationship with music and our ambition to do something interesting, entertaining and inclusive. But that’s pretty much it. So for this year, I’ve just gone with a knowledge of what works and has worked for LIMF and fits the vibe of the festival - which is essentially a nuanced mix of past, present and future. It can be challenging to make this work over 4 stages – as many festivals have dozens of stages and areas – but that cohesiveness, I think, makes a stronger statement and memorable experience for audiences. No matter what we think, all these artists and genres are all connected - and I enjoy helping audiences feel good about that connection. What does your role involve and where do you take inspiration from? My role essentially covers curating the musical LIMF node Liverpool International Music Festival curator Yaw Owusu gives his lowdown on this year’s event (20-21 July) and the state of the industry content of the festival - so who performs on stage, when and where. However, I also play a role in informing and delivering the messaging, brand development and marketing and PR strategy and activity. On top of that, I programme and drive the festival’s award-winning talent development programme, the LIMF Academy. I derive inspiration from the artists and music and my own experience and beliefs. To explain better, I’m very artist-centric – I work with artists closely and have done for years (see THE PLAYMAKER GROUP) - so I always want to help them articulate what they do in the best way. So with LIMF - it’s about the selection and where and how they are placed at the festival. I love that challenge with the festival every year. It’s like a jigsaw. The artists and the music dictates so much of that picture, alongside any statements we are trying to make. Further, I have an overriding belief that music is and should be a connector and there’s more commonality than difference so I try to gently make sure that comes through with the programming every year. One of the biggest compliments is that the festival is so diverse and it brings people together from all walks of life to enjoy music. That’s the biggest compliment to me as a true lover of music and creativity and a champion of true diversity and inclusion. What is the health of the festival sector in the UK currently? What is great and what is lacking? The festival market - in my opinion - is healthy, in terms of the sheer number of festivals. There are a lot of festivals, catering to various musical appetites. For audiences, this is great. For new artists, there are many places you can perform. In a time where so many things are digital, these festivals are real-life places for people to be entertained and connect with artists and music! 18