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May 11, 2012

Icon“There is still a need for this kind of festival” – Exclusive interview with Jackie Crozier, LadyRock founder

Have you been wondering exactly why LadyRock and GoGo were cancelled this year? Do you want find out the reasons behind such drastic decisions made?  We do too! We recently caught up with Jackie Crozier, LadyRock’s very own festival director to talk about what issues they faced, the history of Pride and ultimately, why they had to cancel.

2012 has seen the quick rise and the even quicker demise of the lesbian festivals.  3 became 1 in quick succession, after GoGo in the south and LadyRock in the north succumbed, L Fest was the only one left standing, right in the heart of England.  After hearing about the saddening news that LadyRock was forced to cancel due to the economic climate, then hearing about GoGo falling at the same hurdle, it made me think… what makes lesbian festivals such a fickle mistress to tame whilst gay pride events stand the test of time?

One of the main reasons that come to mind is the history behind Pride.  After the Stonewall riot in 1969, we’ve celebrated our community and what makes us special with such ferocity and love, it’s relatively easier to set up an event with this at its core.

Festivals always hang in the balance due to schedule clashes.  It’s safe to say we’ve got a lot going on here in the UK with that little sporting event happening in the summer.  Olympics is it?  I actually can’t wait to see the drama unfold on the smurf turf, yet I was ready to make my way down to a lady fest or two as well.  Read on to find out why we’ve been stripped from our selection mere weeks before the events were set to take place this year.

LadyRock was in its first year, yet had to cancel… what issues did you face?

In general, as featured throughout mass national media this year, 2012 has been an unfortunate time for festivals. In terms of issues specific to us, there really were not that many (at least that were apparent). We were thrilled with our line-up and had fantastic feedback for it. As a new brand we felt strong as an organisation, our team worked hard and we were receiving good press, both locally and nationally. Ultimately festivals are cancelled because of ticket sales and, in relation to ours, I would perhaps say that we had not made ourselves public early enough.

Whilst we had made an impact in the festival, LGBT and north west press sectors, you have to remember that we only announced the event and its full line-up around twelve weeks or so ago. In hindsight, we should have had more time so that people could get hold of their tickets and tell their friends about the event. Unfortunately we were stuck as to which months we could hold the festival in.

What was the ultimate issue that forced you guys to cancel the festival?

Aside from planning – and I hate to sound like a stereotypical Brit – but the weather we have had for the past two or three months has been horrendous, particularly in Manchester. The image most have of festivals is heat, Ray Bans and cans of Strongbow, whilst all we’ve seen since February has been rain, hooded jackets and hot chocolates. Had we been in sun bathing weather for two months, who knows what could have happened…

In general, as I said before, many UK festivals have been cancelled this year. National events such as the Queen’s Jubilee and The Olympics have meant many individuals re-think their ‘big weekends’ and celebrations around patriotism (which I fully support). I know the word is batted about so much but, in addition to this, the recession is constantly worrying people into where they spend their pennies. This has obviously affected us in the same way it has done other festivals.

Do you think the cancellation of LadyRock and GoGo was related or two separate issues?

I think related in the general ideas I just mentioned, as we are both smaller festivals, but not in respect of us being ‘women’s events’. Whilst we are most definitely a ‘niche’ event, there is an obvious need for our kind of festival on the market. This is visible from media types that relate to women and moreover, lesbian issues, as well as a clear market audience.

Whilst it has been a tough year both for us and our friends at GO.GO, 2012 wasn’t unsuccessful because of lack of want, but for all the aforementioned reasons.

Why do you think Prides have stood the test of time and grown over the past few years?

Pride events are pivotal to our society, both nationally and further afield, but in major UK cities their message and meaning has most definitely progressed over the years.

Manchester Pride began as a small event well over twenty years ago. It was a ‘bring and buy’ sale to raise money for HIV/AIDS organisations. In addition to that, Pride Marches took place to try and make a statement: regardless of homophobia and hate, which surrounded the gay community, it would not back down. It was a message of strength and, for other gay people, it was about hope.

Fast forward to 2012, and you can see and understand the journey even if you were not there to witness it first-hand. There is still money being raised for HIV and AIDS groups, but it goes towards helping people live and sustain a comfortable life. Other funds are raised looking for a cure, which we would hope is not so distant. In addition to this, Pride money is going towards LGBT community groups – sports teams, arts groups, help centres and radio stations – which we just could never have imagined all of those years ago.

Similarly, our Pride Marches are a cause for celebration. They still voice an aggressive strength and a deep-invested passion for equality, a fight against hatred and the feeling of alienation, but there is such a positivity around them. In Manchester, hundreds of thousands of straight men and women come to watch the parade and support our community. Major brands, celebrities and institutions take part to show their support for us – it is astounding, really.

Pride events will always be relevant, whether we are pushing further towards equal rights or celebrating the long journey we have come.

As well as that, the LGBT community is notorious for loving a good party… And, for that reason, the entertainment elements of Prides (fringe events, singing, comedy etc) make for a fantastic show.

So yes, the events have grown in size and capacity, but the passion and need for them has always been just as integral. I am so proud of our community and all of those who support it – we are doing a fantastic job and setting a wonderful example for the world. We really do show that ‘It Gets Better’, as they say…

Are you heading off to any this year?

As a huge supporter of Pride events around the world, I would love the chance to see LGBT communities celebrating in as many places as possible. Things are understandably extremely busy for me at the moment but, if I am able to, then you will definitely see me pop up at a few Pride events in 2012…

You and the team had a lot of stuff organised, such as merchandise etc… What’s going to happen to that stuff now?

As true ladies and rockers, we have always been particularly prepared as a team. When organising a festival – which I’ve now become quite used to – there is no other way to be. In terms of merchandise, we purchased by order, and so have not been left with too many excess items. For what has been sold – hold onto it – because I have no doubt you may be needing it in the not so distant future…

Will LadyRock return with a vengeance in 2013?

‘Onwards and upwards’ is our motto. The LadyRock brand is far from gone, and it will just come down to time control and more planning to ensure the event comes together as it should next time around. We are still extremely visible via social media; our Twitter account will remain very much active, keeping followers up-to-speed with all things music, Manchester, female, LGBT and festival related. In and amongst that, there will certainly be teasers in terms of where the brand is headed and when you will next hear from us… So watch this space, and make sure to follow us for the ride, as it’s set to be a good one…

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Ffion Davies

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