eFestivals got a chance to have an exclusive chat with festival boss Melvin Benn ahead of the launch of the 10th Latitude Festival which takes place at Henham Park Estate, Suffolk.
Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic, launched Latitude in 2006, next year the event celebrates it's 10th Anniversary. Melvin isn't prepared to give clues about the line-up, though rumours are a previous headliner may make a return appearance and ten acts from Latitude 2006 will be coming back for special homecoming shows.
However, he's happy to reveal, "Plans for next year are going really well. I'm very pleased. We're just really letting people know we're back. It is the 10th anniversary and we're going to be making some additions to the festival."A for the line-up he has under wraps, "I'm very happy with it, very happy."
The event will also have a number of exclusives, something the festival has a reputation for. There are also a lot of debut arts performances and collaborations. "There will be some exclusives, very much. There will be a whole number of arts performances and plays commissioned specially for the event. Very much so."
What exactly he has planned for this refreshing of the event after a decade, he won't go into details, again rumours suggest an additional stage is one of the changes this year. Melvin is clearly very focused on looking to the future of the event, and isn't a man who dwells on the event's history. He explains that he's someone who finds it difficult to look back. "I'm not the kind of person that looks back at highlights, I always think the highlights are going to come in the future. Of course a significant highlight was starting the festival. The essence of that is that when I started the festival I wanted to rewrite the rule book a little. I wanted it to be different to what a festival had been. That's a continuing highlight for me, that that's what I did. People began to perceive festivals differently to how they used to be. Other festivals will have poetry, ballet, or something like that. That's something that I don't think would happen if Latitude hadn't introduced it."
Melvin doesn't believe festival goers were as accepting of this new style of festival with such a varied programme in those first few years. "It's taken some time to build up, and I don't think people had accepted it in the same way as they do now. When we first started it, I don't think people could quite understand what it was, whether it was a literary festival or a music festival. What I was always trying to do was explain it was more than that."
The festival has developed a faithful following with numbers increasing year on year. "We have a persistent following that absolutely always want to be there." He doesn't think the audience has changed much over the years, The existing fans, "have got older, and we've got an awful lot of new fans. But the spectrum of fans is very similar to the first year. All be it that there's just more of them than there was in the first year."
The audience is also becoming technologically adept, and that's the main reason the event is closing their forums. "10 years ago there wasn't Twitter and Facebook, and really and truly everything has moved on to there. That's the main reason, really and truly everything has moved onto there."
Melvin also has other events he organises each year in the festival calendar. He briefly mentions how plans are going for them. Melvin says, "We're on sale with Reading and Leeds, and we're ahead on ticket sales compared to where we were last year. That's very encouraging, but we have announced Metallica so perhaps that's not that surprising." Festival Republic have also launched a new German event, another event which offers fans more than just a line-up with Kids of Palooza, Green Palooza, there's a lot of additional activities. "Lollapalooza in Berlin, we've announced we're happening but we've not made an artist yet, we won't make any artist announcement this side of Christmas, and we've put tickets on sale."
The model of a festival which offers a varied arts programme has become the norm these days, it seems to be something festival goers want. However Melvin doesn't think it would be quite difficult to start a large festival like Reading and Leeds now where the event is just primarily about the music? "No, I don't think so necessarily, it's not something I've thought about. But it's a very fair point."
There used to be another event that also offered a varied programme, and was perhaps a the germinating seed for Latitude, that event. Big Chill, was bought by Melvin, but has not run now for a number of years. He confides that he's had "constant thoughts" to revive it, "but no plans."
Latitude Festival 2015 will be the 10th Birthday Edition taking place over the weekend of Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th July 2015 in the grounds of Henham Park Estate, Suffolk.
Tickets for Latitude 2015 are onsale now, with the option to spread the cost of a festival ticket over several months with a £50 payment plan.
An adult weekend ticket is priced at £187.50 with a Family Camping option also available, a teen weekend ticket is priced at £132.50, with a weekend ticket for all children aged 5 -12 years priced at £8. Campervan permits are priced at £39.50, and mobilehome and caravan passes are priced at £59.50, Day tickets are not yet on sale.
Tickets can also be paid for in instalments, and secured with a first payment of £50.
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