Debs Armstrong talks exclusively to eFestivals about Summerland

offering equity crowdfunding and your chance to see it flourish

published: Thu 12th Nov 2015


Back in January 2013 Debs Armstrong was invited to look at a venue, during a particularly horrible winter. Whilst she was there she thought about where she would like to be, somewhere in the sun and the warmth which would be healthy for her and so Summerland was conceived.

Debs, the creative force behind Glastonbury Festival's naughty corner, has stepped back from Shangri-La to concentrate on the new project. She explained exclusively to eFestivals that, "The reason I've stepped back from Shangri-La is that its kind of grown up now, it's become a teenager. The team are managing it a lot themselves, and I just wanted to focus on birthing this new child really, which is Summerland."

Debs hopes to raise a total of £3m in 2 rounds. They will be equity crowdfunding the 1st round and have venture capitalists lined up for the 2nd round. After only one week of their private campaign, they raised £141,085. The target for the 1st round is £845k equity crowdfunded via a platform called Seedrs  with everyone who invests not only getting there shares as in a normal investment but also rewards depending on how much they invest ranging from free tickets & drinks,  private dining opportunities, exclusive use of Summerland for a private party and many more. And the great thing is that people can invest from £10 up to £150k so is accessible to everyone to own a piece of paradise….

Summerland will launch in Dec 2016 and It's in a secret East London venue which Debs is unwilling to reveal exactly where, otherwise "everyone will be mobbing the teleporter" The idea of an idyllic location in the sun will be made possible thanks to climate control and a video mapped sky. "It's going to be 1.5 million lumins. If you ever saw Shangri La that was video mapped with only 160,000 lumins, and that was amazing. At Summerland we're also working with Wellcome Trust scientists on uv lighting. You know when you go into somewhere really warm and balmy and you've been cold for ages, and when you go into the warmth your muscles just relax, that's what we want. We do want it to be genuinely good for people."

"We've divided the shows up so that the daytime are really focused on families, and yoga and massage and that sort of thing. Environmental wellbeing is really important. Then the night time shows will go a bit more pool party. There's a stage that's built into the rocks by the waterfall. It'll be awesome you’ll have a band by the waterfall, then you've got a DJ on top of a waterfall, you've got the hot tubs by the stage which will be a pretty prime spot I'd imagine."

"You've also got this jungle walk through with all these little nooks & crannies, with day beds and things like that for people. You've got an Indiana Jones-style maze, which offers a lot of exploring for the kids. There's this whole story about why Santa is at Summerland. He's in rehab after a breakdown, his elves have been made redundant because the children don't want his wooden toys, all they ask for is iPads. He's upset, he's lost his magic so he sends the children on a quest in Summerland to find his magic. They have to get a magic crystal from the crystal cave wizard and take it back to Santa and they decide if they want to keep the magic crystal or swap it for a toy, the materialistic little gits (laughs)."

There's a lot of stuff like that which will make the parents happy by keeping the children happy. While the kids are on the quest, which is quite long, the parents have time to themselves to enjoy Summerland. The plants are a combination of real and fake ones. "It's being done by the people that do film set jungles for films James Bond & Clash Of the Titans."

There will be 27 show days running from the 12th December until 8th January. "I've not yet been able to come up with a term for what Summerland is, but it's like an immersive theatre experience meets festival. It's like a festival because you can wander around the venue as you like, but it's an immersive theatre because there's going to be character performers like human monkeys, and Santa and that sort of thingIt's got that combination of performers and music, so it's sort of a hybrid of all that and high end film technology. There will be caterers in Caribbean style shacks doing holiday snacks, and each show is four hours long."

"Each four hours has a whole 24 hour lighting sequence within it. You get there at dawn, and it's pink and misty, then full sun at high noon, then sunset, lightning flash,, stormy clouds, galactic displays, aurora borealis, pink unicorns winging across the sky, whatever we like!"

"Ticket prices are set really dynamically and accessible. There are some sessions which are £18 for an adult and £6 for children. So a family of four could get in for under £50.  All the way up to £75 for adults but those are the ones with the bigger acts. We've got a few weekends so we're trying to book different headliners for each weekend. The two evening shows which will have the bands and DJs are from 6.30pm until 10.30pm, and then we've got 11pm until 3am."

"It's summer in a box , a killer show that hopes to make a good return that can re-invest in itself and other future projects. The best part of it is the equity crowdfunding angle, that means we are able to open the project up at a much earlier stage.  Normally I'd be talking to the venture capitalists and hoping to get it funded.  By equity crowdfunding the first part it means that all the people who have loved the shows get to actually own part of it. I think it's the first festival that's been equity crowdfunded.  People always have such a sense of ownership of the festival, you always feel it, but at the end of the day they don't have much say in what happens to it. I think this is really interesting. What Seedrs does is create an investors forum that is a platform for us to talk to everyone and share information, instead of going cap in hand as a creative."

The Equity Crowd Funding offering the public a chance to get involved opened yesterday Wednesday 11th November …. For further info go to ot the Summerland website (here).

interview by: Scott Williams

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