National Festival of Thrift plans to return in 2018, enriching local lives and the economy

The huge success of this year’s National Festival of Thrift at Kirkleatham had a very positive impact on the Redcar economy and provided a boost for entrepreneurial north east businesses, according to an independent event evaluation report.

The award-winning Festival, which is returning to Kirkleatham on 22 and 23 September 2018, is now established as the UK’s celebration of sustainable living and the report shows that this year’s event attracted visitors from across the UK and generated an overall economic impact of over £840k, almost 70% higher than reported on the previous year.

Over 45,000 visitors attended the 2017 Festival on 23 and 24 September, spending on average £27 per head.  This translates to a contribution to the Redcar economy of over £1/4M, supporting 14 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.

Of the 140 plus stallholder businesses at the Festival, more than 70% were from the north east region with 34% of those businesses from Redcar and the wider Tees Valley region.  As well as selling their goods direct to the public over the course of the weekend, 80% of the businesses surveyed said they had made new contacts, 51% came away with new ideas and 39% with new commissions or work with virtually all (98%) wanting to return to do business at next year’s event.

Over half of the businesses trading at the event are independent traders turning over less than £10,000 per annum and many made a significant chunk of their annual turnover as a result of being at the event.

The figures show that the Festival’s offer of a packed arts-based programme of entertainment and activity alongside a mix of stallholders selling artisan goods and locally-sourced food and drink is a huge draw for people across the UK.  The Festival audience is made up of all ages but the report showed a significant increase in 2017 in younger visitors with 10% more 25-24 year olds at the 2017 event, as well over 2,700 people that came along for two full days of fun and entertainment.

Over 61% of visitors reported that it improved their perceptions of Redcar and, in its second year at Kirkleatham, the Festival has also embedded further into the Redcar and Cleveland community, with a 33% increase in local visitors with 15% of those coming to the Festival via foot, indicating a strong local audience.

Stella Hall, Director of the Festival of Thrift, said that the report conclusively shows the positive economic impact that arts-based events can have as well as the powerful effect that the arts and culture economy can have in helping to regenerate areas.

“We have worked hard to establish a creative community at the Festival and the report proves that it is a hugely attractive prospect for visitors.  The survey results stated that people came along to the event to be inspired and do something out of the ordinary, as well as to enjoy the atmosphere and spend time with friends and family.

“I was delighted to find out that half of our visitors came to the Festival last year and returned again this year, showing how much they enjoyed it. It’s great to have such a loyal base of people who clearly love the Festival and want to be come along and join in every year.

“The figures show the fantastically positive knock-on effect this has had on the local economy and also the huge difference this has made to local entrepreneurs with stalls as well as the commissioned artists exhibiting in Navigator North’s Latest Edition show at the Festival.  The event is a massive opportunity for them all to further develop and grow, which in turn is great for the regional economy.”

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council’s cabinet member for culture, tourism and communications, Cllr Carl Quartermain, said: “A boost of more than £800,000 shows how this event benefits the whole borough.

“The Festival of Thrift isn’t just a fun day out. As well as people trying new creative crafts, learning about sustainable living and showcasing the creative work of artisans, the Festival of Thrift has a real positive economic impact. Traders come from near and far to create a quality and unique event, selling a wide variety of products, food and drink from around the country.

“Among the thousands of visitors this year included a couple who drove up from Nottingham having seen the Festival on the TV that morning! Drawing visitors from so far away allows us to show off our borough with pride.

“I’m incredibly excited to see what it’s in store for 2018’s Festival of Thrift. They have quite a job on their hands to top this year, but I’m confident they can pull it off.”

The 2018 Festival of Thrift will take place on 22 & 23 September at Kirkleatham Museum and Grounds.


Media enquiries:

Rachel Smith, , 07905215712


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