Latitude a boost to the economy

HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds will be pumped into the local economy by this year's Latitude Festival, its organiser has said.

Jonathan Barnes

HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds will be pumped into the local economy by this year's Latitude Festival, its organiser has said.

The music and arts showcase, held at the Henham Estate, near Southwold, returns for its fourth year this summer, on July 16-19.

Up to 25,000 people each day will visit the event, many camping on site, to enjoy a stellar bill of music, art, film, comedy, poetry, literature, debate, dance, and theatre.

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Festival boss Melvin Benn said the event had become a “focal point for the summer, both locally and nationally”.

Mr Benn, who is managing director of Festival Republic, said he was pleased how the local community had “embraced” Latitude - and said it provided a major boost to the Suffolk economy.

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“There's an unquestionable additional economic impact to the festival being here,” he said yesterday, at a press day ahead of the event.

“The festival is still a modest size so it's not going to be an impact of tens of millions of pounds, but I'm certain it's an impact of hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

He added: “You cannot get a B&B north of Ipswich during the Latitude Festival; you can barely rent a house during the festival.

“The number of ticket sales in the area is very substantial too. There's a little flower shop in Southwold - Foxtail Lilly. They do a phenomenal amount of ticket sales for us.

“And it's not just about people attending and buying tickets locally. People want to buy product at the festival that is locally produced. With the children's area there is a phenomenal amount of local participation. It's become a festival synonymous with the area very, very quickly.”

The festival, which prides itself on being eco and family-friendly, will feature artists including Grace Jones, Pet Shop Boys, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Bat For Lashes, Editors, Doves, the Pretenders, Squeeze and Newton Faulkener on the music stages.

Top names - including Jo Brand, Ed Byrne and Mark Thomas - will perform in the Comedy Arena while Frank Skinner was yesterday announced as the latest addition to the Literary Arena.

Former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion heads the line-up in the Poetry Arena while Sadler's Wells, the Royal Opera House and the Britten Sinfonia will perform on the Waterfront Stage. The Royal Shakespeare Company tops the bill on the Theatre Stage.

“It's possibly the only festival where you get a Poet Laureate and Chas and Dave on the same bill,” said Mr Benn.

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Click here to read blogger Jon Barnes' take on the Latitude line-up

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