Festival gives economy a £1.4million boost

Crowds being entertained at Bents Park.
Crowds being entertained at Bents Park.

A music festival in South Shields has attracted more than 115,000 visitors and given the economy a £1.4million boost.

The South Tyneside Festival, organised annually by South Tyneside Council, offers three months of free entertainment and live music.

There has already been a record turn out and with events continuing until the end of August, these figures are expected to rise even further.

The most well attended aspect of the festival so far has been the Sunday Concert series in Bents Park, South Shields.

These four open air performances - headlined by 5ive and Atomic Kitten, Billy Ocean, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and The Feeling and North East stars Joe McElderry, Collabro and Lola Saunders, attracted a combined 77,500 visitors during July, almost double the figure from three similar concerts in 2014.

This alone has contributed an estimated £930,000 to the local economy, based on average visitor spend.

Richard Ord owner of Colmans, which sponsored the series alongside Port of Tyne and Dicksons, said: “There was a great deal of excitement in the build up to this year’s Sunday concert series and I’m delighted to see that it translated into attendance on the day.

“Much of this success can be attributed to the strength of the varied line-up crafted by South Tyneside Council, as well as a strong promotional campaign to raise awareness and, of course, the good weather enjoyed on each of the four concert days.”

The South Tyneside Festival’s Summer Parade, supported by Careline Lifestyles, proved equally popular, with 25,000 spectators lining the streets of South Shields to mark 150 years since the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland – a 25 per cent rise on the previous year’s parade.

Similar increases were achieved at the festival’s Proms in the Park, featuring the South Tyneside Orchestra and soprano Bibi Heal, which almost doubled its attendance from 2014 and the month-long series of live music performances at the open air Amphitheatre, which drew crowds of 4,700 people in June – an increase of 300 on last year’s programme.

The South Tyneside Festival’s Summer Fair, which this year was staged as a standalone event, also had an impact, attracting 6,000 visitors for a targeted day of family fun and more live music.

Councillor Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, with responsibility for culture and leisure, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the turn out for the South Tyneside Festival 2015 and the positive impact it has had on the local economy.

“The success of this year’s event can be attributed to a number of factors, including the decision to add an additional free event to the Sunday Concert series and to give our Summer Parade a spectacular Alice in Wonderland theme. Of course, we could not have done all of this without the support of our event partners.”