VASILY PETRENKO, the chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, has thrown his backing behind the new Liverpool International Music Festival.
The event will replace the Mathew Street Festival – which was axed earlier this week by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson – and will run on the same August bank holiday weekend.
It will feature four days of events, including Beatles-influenced outdoor stages at the Pier Head and a concert from the RLPO in Sefton Park.
The Post can also reveal that the new festival – aimed at a more highbrow audience than the populist Mathew Street event – will be part-funded by the Arts Council, although the exact amount has yet to be revealed.
Petrenko said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting new approach to staging a festival which celebrates every kind of music in one of the world’s great music cities set in two of its most beautiful locations, the Pier Head and Sefton Park.”
Costs of the new-look event will be around £540,000, 40% lower than the £900,000 spent in previous years.
Mayor Anderson said: “After 20 years of the Mathew Street Festival, it feels right for it to evolve into a refreshed event which will have mass appeal.
“Over the years, the original festival has become more high-profile and as a result it became one of the most costly to stage. It simply isn’t affordable to continue funding this event when we are facing cuts of more than £149m over the next four years.
“Liverpool International Music Festival will combine the best of the original event with live music on three outdoor stages.
“This fresh approach also gives us the opportunity to look at the format of an outdoor music event and address key issues – including alcohol – which was a bone of contention in recent years.
“It feels like the time is right to develop the format and we strongly believe the Liverpool International Music Festival will have broader appeal and will be a popular replacement.”
Claire McColgan, director of Culture Liverpool, said: “The focus on different types of music means we were able to attract funding from the Arts Council, which was not possible with the Mathew Street Festival. The aim is that this will be almost like the Edinburgh Festival, where you can pick up a brochure listing all the events in all of the venues and at the outdoor stages and the acts you want to see.
“We’re aiming to put on a variety of events in a variety of spaces and we have a budget in place to fund the marketing of the fringe too.
“If people want to put something on, we are very keen to help them do that.”
Venues reacted positively, saying they plan to continue the successful fringe festival, focusing on original grassroots music.
Ethan Allen, music director of Eric’s, said: “We will continue to put on a terrific live music festival across our indoor stages on Mathew Street.”