2015 Lakes International Comic Art Festival nets £1.7 million for host town of Kendal

Comics fans wait patiently for events to start at the Brewery Arts Centre. Photo courtesy Lakes International Comic Art Festival
Comics fans wait patiently for events to start at the Brewery Arts Centre. Photo courtesy Lakes International Comic Art Festival

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival has published the results of its Visitor Survey and Event Evaluation for this year’s October 2015 – and it makes for positive reading for the event, the town and its team of dedicated volunteers.

Now in its third year, the event organisers and partners decided to commission independent research by Red Research to evaluate the Festival which attracted almost 14,000 assessing its economic contribution to the local economy, calculate return on investment (ROI) and provide insight into the audiences attending the festival: who it attracted, where they came from, who they came with, how much they spent, how they found out about the festival, their view of the event and whether they’d visit again.

The full report has now been published on the Festival web site (PDF link), but over 300 face-to-face interviews completed with people attending the festival revealed attendees were on the whole, very impressed with the event, many amazed that for a small town, Kendal had hosted such as big festival.

“It’s enhanced the town’s creative reputation,” said one interviewee, while another said it had “helped to increase Kendal’s status as a festival town”.

Highlights from the report reveal

  • Almost everybody of those interviewed had made their trip to Kendal specifically for the Comic Art Festival
  • There were slightly more 5–19 year olds at the event compared to the national population, and significantly more 20-39 year olds
  • The festival appealed to a wide range of markets, from couples (24 per cent), to extended family groups (30 per cent), and groups of friends (23 per cent). Many people attended on their own (30%)
  • 76 percent of groups were adults only – 24 per cent included children (under the age of 15). Average party size was 2.4 people
  • The festival attracted both a local audience, and drew people from further afield. 30 per cent of people were from Kendal itself, 6 per cent from elsewhere within South Lakeland, and 19% from elsewhere in the county
  • 45 per cent of people were from outside of the county, the majority from elsewhere in the UK. These people were most likely to be from the North West (42 per cent), Yorkshire and Humber (13 per cent) or Scotland (11 per cent). Almost 15 per cent were from London and the South East.

As well as attracting existing comic art fans, the event also brought people new to comic art. 38% described themselves as general comic art fans, 44 per cent were avid fans, and 18 per cent said they were new to comic art.

Feedback on the Festival itself was overwhelmingly positive, with The Brewery and the Comics Clock Tower singled out for praise, as well a the many opportunities to meet artists, attend talks and workshops. In fact, the Festival proved so popular for some that they even wanted it to go on for longer.

Over 98 per cent of those interviewed said they would visit Kendal again and over 98 per cent would recommend the Festival to friends – and there were plenty of ideas for future events.

On average, each person spent £41.30 at the event, with many visitors also spending freely on food and drink, or shopping in the town over the weekend. Many people said the event had enhanced or improved their perception of Kendal, creating a buzz, bringing to it a creative, cultural edge, and making them want to return.

With an estimated 13,900 festival attendees, total spend at the festival is estimated to be £574,070 over the weekend in the town, and total total economic impact by visitors to the 2015 Festival – adding in food and drink, shopping and hotel stays is estimated at £1,763,082. For each pound spent on delivering the Comic Art Festival, £11 was put back into the local economy.

• Read the Lakes International Comic Art Festival  2015 Visitor Survey and Event Evaluation Report (PDF Link)

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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