Organisers and volunteers of the Looe Saves the Day festival almost stole the show at this year’s Cornwall Tourism Awards as guests at the glittering ceremony clapped and cheered as the team were presented with a special community award for their amazing achievement in organising a community led event for thousands of music lovers in just 18 days.
Although the timing of the festival meant it was not eligible to be considered for a main award, the judges at the Cornwall Tourism Awards were so impressed by the way the local community pulled together to rescue the festival at such short notice, they decided to present the town with a special award.
Announcing the award host Daphne Skinnard said that the town had refused to accept the loss of the original festival and had “pulled out all the stops” to ensure that an event took place. “You are a credit to the town and to the people of Looe” she said.
The glass award, designed by Jo Downs, was presented to Festival Directors Armand Toms, the Mayor of Looe, and local Cornwall Councillor Edwina Hannaford by Robin Barker, organiser of Cornwall Tourism Awards.
“Tourism is all about teams, and events are about teams coming together to create something that attracts visitors to a destination to have a great experience” he said. “This year’s Awards panel were hugely impressed by how the Looe community worked together to create something out of a crisis, showing how well community teams can deliver if there’s a will and shared passion.
“The panel unanimously decided to award a special community award to Looe Saves the Day – and to offer congratulations to everyone involved.”
Accepting the award on behalf of the Looe Saves the Day festival team and the residents and businesses of Looe, an emotional Armand Toms and Edwina Hannaford said they were very proud of what had been achieved.
“We recognised that the festival was very important to our local economy, generating more than £18m over the past seven years. Everyone was disappointed by the unexpected cancellation at such short notice and so we decided to see if we could put on an event to replace it.
“Normally organising an event on this scale would take many months of preparation – we had just three weeks – but we were determined to give it a go if the local community were behind the idea.“
The local community certainly were behind the idea. With funding in place, the stage built, hundreds of acts booked – both for the main stage and the 28 bars, cafes and restaurants throughout the town, and more than 250 volunteers recruited, the Looe Saves the Day group welcomed thousands of people to the town during the three day event.
The decision to come together to stage a festival after the official Looe Music Festival was cancelled less than three weeks before it was due to take place has received widespread praise from individuals and communities across the country, with many highlighting the incredible community spirit which made it possible.
The LSTD team are already looking ahead to next year . Following a packed public meeting which gave a massive thumbs up to the principle of staging a community led festival in 2019, the group are working on drawing up a detailed business plan which looks at the practicalities of staging an event.
The costs of staging this year’s festival were just under £60,000, with the money raised through a mixture of donations, sponsorship, fund raising events, crowdfunding, street collections and the sale of Looe Saves the Day merchandise. The true costs of replicating the event next year with some refinements are predicted at around £200,000 and the team are working on attracting more sponsorship and looking at fund raising options, including charging for tickets.
“People at the public meeting were clear they want any future festival to be community led “ said Edwina and Armand. “But we also need to ensure that it is financially sustainable and does not overload the infrastructure of the town.
“This award shows just what can happen when businesses and residents in Looe get together to make something happen. We know we have a bigger mountain to climb this time but we also know that if we all work together we can get to the top”.