Du Maurier festival name change in bid to go global
One of the Westcountry's best-loved festivals is reinventing itself for 2013 to bring in larger audiences and market itself nationally as a major draw for tourists.
The Fowey Festival of Words and Music was last night officially announced as the new name for the annual event formerly known as The du Maurier Festival.
Set up in 1997 by Restormel Council to pay tribute to the life and work of one of Fowey's most famous residents, the author Daphne du Maurier, the event was inherited by Cornwall Council when it became a unitary authority. Under-resourced and struggling to survive, it was handed over 16 months ago to the du Maurier Festival Society, a band of loyal and determined local volunteers.
Jonathan Aberdeen, director of the festival, held each May in the Cornish harbour town, said that partnership with VisitCornwall, alliances with Hall for Cornwall, alongside more backing from local businesses will breathe fresh life into the ten-day event, which attracts top names from the arts, music, entertainment and literature worlds.
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"New branding will give the festival a shot in the arm," he said. "We will benefit from the high visibility that VisitCornwall's marketing machine can give us and they, in turn, can use the festival to attract more people to the county.
"We are also building a new website and we'll be making full use of social media like Facebook and Twitter to keep the festival profile in focus."
Mr Aberdeen revealed that bookings already made for next year include a live recording of the BBC's Any Questions? with Jonathan Dimbleby, who will also be talking about his new book Destiny in the Desert: The Road to El Alamein.
Highly respected author and broadcaster Sarah Dunant will deliver the inaugural du Maurier Lecture on a literary topic, building on the festival's original inspiration.
Mr Aberdeen stressed that Daphne du Maurier's family would remain actively involved with the festival.
Tony Hyde, new chair of the du Maurier Festival Society trustees, was upbeat about the future.
"Our immediate goals are simple: to attract more visitors, widen our audience, introduce new sources of income, develop our volunteer network, promote community events around the Fowey river, and by so doing, achieve a sound financial base with ever decreasing reliance on public subsidy " he said.
"This year, our first, we increased festival attendance by 14% and total revenue by more than £30,000. Just as important, we have built up a network of more than 100 volunteers who meet and greet, sell and clean, providing the bedrock for a sustainable festival. For 2013, we aim to deliver a 25% increase in ticket sales."
Sponsorship at a wide variety of levels is being invited from Cornish businesses and individuals as another key way to tip more cash in the pot for bookings and staging.