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Westival dreams big for 2019

Going Out

STOP MOTION Among the highlights of last year’s packed Westival programme were the major art exhibitions held in the former Dunnes Stores building on Castlebar Street. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Lots of opportunities for local businesses to get on board and feel the benefits

2008 conor-wilson 300Westport’s music and arts festival, Westival, is increasing ticket sales for this October Bank Holiday’s event as Westport positions itself as a key destination on Ireland’s festival scene this autumn.
The arts festival, hosted in various venues throughout the town of Westport, relaunched with a bang last year as Westival, attracting over 5,000 visitors over its six-day programme and 59 events. The festival also reported a large increase in box office sales of €42,000 up from and an average of €20,000 in previous years.
With many of the shows selling out in 2018 and with high demand for tickets, the organisers have decided to increase the number of shows, securing more Arts Council funding than ever before for this year’s event.
With only a few festivals happening in Ireland around October, the arts festival’s move from its traditional September slot seems to have worked well. Last year’s Westival attracted fans of music, literature, visual arts and street spectacle from across Ireland and beyond with over 2,700 of the 5,000 audience travelling to Westport for the festival – including 75 ticket buyers who were from outside of Ireland. The festival’s post audience survey counted  650 bed nights booked into hotels and B&Bs across the town.
“Festivals and events such as this offer a host of economic and social benefits to the local area and indeed the community at large” says, Anna Connor of Mayo County Council. “Last year’s Westival generated a €410,000 boost to the local economy and [we hope] to see this grow even more this year.”  says Anna.
Festival director Conor Wilson (pictured right), who came on board to help develop the festival in 2018, says these figures demonstrate that festivals are really good news for the economy in Westport.
“Music and arts festivals are an excellent way of drawing visitors to Mayo, and last year we celebrated a bumper number of people who travelled both nationally and internationally to Westport,” Wilson told The Mayo News.
“We expect to do the same again this year by programming events that have broad appeal and really give people a reason to come west and celebrate our town and culture with us.
“We are incredibly lucky here in Westport, as both artists and audiences want to visit Westport, with its unique setting with unrivalled beauty, a truly inspirational place for celebrating the arts,’’ he continued.

Business to Arts
This year’s programme will be released on September 14, and local businesses are being encouraged to contact the festival organisers if they would like to participate in their Business to Arts initiatives.
“We are looking to create meaningful partnerships with businesses locally and ensure their investments are mutually beneficial and sustainable,” Wilson explained. “Long-term investment in events like Westival allow the festival to programme, plan strategically and enhance our impact on tourism and local audiences.
Local council and government arts grants only go so far in helping to deliver a festival of this size.
This year, we encourage more business to get on board with what can only be a good thing for Westport and the thriving arts economy here.”  There are also opportunities for individuals to become patrons of Westival, where they can enjoy such benefits as front row seats at gigs, two-for-one tickets on certain shows, access to the Westival artists’ bar throughout the festival and an invitation to the programme launch in September, to name but a few.  
To become a Business to Arts member or a patron of Westival, visit the ‘Donate’ section on Westival.ie or email the team at hello@westival.ie.

Westival 2019 starts on Wednesday, October 23, and runs until Monday, October 28. The full festival programme will be launched on September 14. For more details, visit www.westival.ie.