Throughout this summer and into early autumn, Creative Estuary is supporting emerging music and performative talent in different genres and venues in Southend; giving local artists and technicians a chance to showcase their skills, develop their careers and, in the process, be properly paid for their efforts.
Beginning with the nationally-recognised Leigh Folk Festival (23 – 26 June), Creative Estuary will be working with the organisers to use this year’s event to be a platform for more emerging artists, creators and performers, giving them a chance to increase their existing fanbases and reach new audiences. With careful scheduling, the 2022 Leigh Folk Festival will blend these talented local performers throughout the line-up, so that they each have an opportunity to perform amongst already established, national artists.
Leigh Folk Festival is a long-established staple of the UK’s folk arts scene that takes place against the beautiful backdrop of Leigh-on-Sea, over the last weekend in June. Running continuously for 30 years (bar 2020-21 due to Covid-19), it has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors to a majority free-to-attend cultural staple that celebrates a broad spectrum of music and performance. Run by community arts charity Leigh Folk Arts, who aim to make grassroots culture accessible-to-all, and its team of dedicated and passionate volunteers.
Kicking off from 23 July and running through to the end of August, the Twenty One ‘Summer Sessions’ will include paid performances from soloists, duos and bands with varying levels of experience. Each session will be open to the public for free. Performances are supported by skills development, live sound and set-up workshops, in-person and remote support to develop effective marketing of the performance and discussions regarding performance material.
Styled as a community and creative café venue, Twenty One is located on Southend seafront, opposite the pier entrance. It has quickly established itself as one of the City’s seaside hotbeds of originality and creativity, helping to nurture emerging artists and performers in a positive, warm and friendly environment. Creative Estuary’s involvement aims to provide significant opportunities for performers of all ages to experience the thrill of appearing on stage and develop themselves as artists in the environment of an industry standard venue.
The Southend Jazz Festival (26 September – 2 October) is an annual celebration of the musical genre, in its myriad forms; from Bepop to Big Band, Cool to Gypsy jazz and beyond. Working in association with Creative Estuary, this year’s festival will welcome a diverse audience – from school-age children to adults – with events specifically designed to maximise wider engagement and diversity. They anticipate over 1000 people experiencing the festival, many of which will be experiencing jazz for the first time, with funding specifically allocated to promote accessibility and a ‘Cultural Expansion’ fund created to help include music and artists that may not otherwise be heard in Southend-on-Sea.
A key aspect of Creative Estuary’s involvement with each of these projects is the desire to acknowledge and highlight the plight of the music industry after the pandemic. Research has shown that around 65% of the country’s professional musicians are still facing financial hardship, while a staggering 71% have been asked to work for free. Central to both festivals and the Summer Sessions is a commitment that all the contributing artists will be paid for their time, no matter their status or where they feature on the programme.