UWE city-centre incubator helps hatch Bristol Festival

Issue date: 08 September 2009

Fire Spinning Now in its second year, the Bristol Festival which takes place on 18, 19 and 20 September has its command centre in the enterprise incubator run by the University of the West of England.

UWE Ventures Bristol is a 65 space business incubation facility located within Bush House, on Bristol's Harbourside. The centre was launched to accommodate and support pre-start and start-up businesses.

The Bristol Festival Community Group won a year's space in the incubator as part of its prize after coming first in the Social Enterprise award category in UWE's theBizidea competition in 2008. The group's idea for a community-led festival means anyone from Bristol and the South-West can get involved in the weekend-long event as well as lots of fundraising activities leading up to it.

Performances across seven outdoor stages and ten nightclubs will offer a huge range of the region's arts, theatre, comedy and music, in a weekend of action packed, highly interactive entertainment.

The programme includes a huge street art show featuring Bristol's graffiti artists, interactive media installations and projections, local films and animations, educational workshops, free dance classes, fire shows, live gigs, a 10-club multi link up after- hours party, and circus and theatre performances across the city. Tickets are around £5 per day in advance with children under 12 free.

The Bristol Festival Community Group was granted charity status in 2008. The group consists of Poppy Stephenson, Andy Smith, Ben Quarrell, Oliver Mochizuki, Caroline Sargeant and Jeffrey Johns (AKA Big Jeff), plus a further 55 committee members and over 300 volunteers.

Poppy said, “The Bristol Festival offers opportunities for people to learn new skills through working with our mentoring and skill-swap programme.

“This isn't just about one weekend – there are year-round music, dance, art and theatre workshops for local schools and community groups, offering young people more access to the arts across the South West.

“Winning a place in the UWE Ventures Incubator gave us a fully equipped, central space with access to meeting space and mentoring from experts to help us develop our ideas.”

The team - Caroline Sargeant, Carly Heath, Andy Smith and Poppy Stephenson - put forward a detailed business plan for reviving the festival and won a cash award of £5,000 to help turn their idea into reality as well as a space in the incubator. Carly is a UWE graduate with a masters in Marketing and Andy has recently graduated in Psychology and Information Technology.

theBizIdea Competition at the University of the West of England is now in its ninth year and keeps on growing, attracting brilliant ideas from the campus tycoons of the future. There are three top prizes, each offering a cash award of £5,000 and a year's rent-free space in UWE's city centre business incubator.

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