Thousands of arts and culture lovers tuned in online to enjoy Midsummer Festival earlier this month. The free one-day festival celebrating arts and culture in the West Midlands was held on Saturday 20th June, and featured over 12 hours of performances, from 33 companies around the region, including 13 never-before-seen works.
Inspired by annual Midsummer celebrations across the world, the festival was the first collaboration of its kind for the region with participating organisations including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham Royal Ballet, IKON Gallery, Ex Cathedra, Birmingham Opera Company and Keneish Dance as well as many more theatre, dance, music, artists and venues from across the West Midlands.
Organised by the West Midlands Culture Response Unit, Midsummer Festival drew audiences from across the globe with people viewing from over 50 countries including the USA, Brazil, Australia and Barbados.
Erica Love Director of Culture Central who lead the WMCRU, said:
“We’re thrilled with the success of Midsummer Festival. To have so many West Midlands arts organisations come together, at what is such a devastating time for the sector is really uplifting.
We wanted this event to be a collaboration and that’s exactly what it was, we had large and small organisations, rural and urban, covering a wide range of artistic genres really showcasing what this region has to offer.
The feedback we’ve received from audience members has been fantastic and just reiterates how much people miss the arts during this time.”
As a predominantly online festival, Midsummer was streamed live on both YouTube and the recently rebranded Make It WM website and drew over 12,000 page views across both channels, with an average viewing time of 21 minutes. The Make It WM website had 23,681 page views on the day of the festival – a record number for this site and beating visitbirmingham.com for the first time.
The festival also made national and international news featuring in outlets such The Guardian, The i and Yahoo! India, with total coverage reaching 4 million people.
Audience members and participating companies were able to interact via live chat and social media during the day with one audience member saying; “I got quite emotional because it made me REALLY miss live dance & made me realise more than ever: The importance of fighting for survival of arts and dance post Covid-19.”
Although a free event, audience members were asked to donate if they could, to the Freedom Fund for Black Artists in the West Midlands. Over £650 of donations were made on the day which will be used to respond to Black Artists’ individual self-identified immediate needs. This fund is in collaboration with MAIA, an artist-led cultural organisation; providing a platform for creative practice, critical thinking and social change, who will use their expertise to manage and distribute the funds.
To make a donation to the Freedom Fund for Black Artists go to www.paypal.me/maiacreativescic
To find out more about the WMCRU go to www.culturecentral.co.uk/wmcru/.