Companies in the town of Huddersfield have come together to create a not-for-profit event group called Huddersfield Live!. Led by recruitment firm, Stafflex, the events will be targeted at the people of Huddersfield and the surrounding areas.
Huddersfield Live! will work in partnership with local organisations to sustain and develop Huddersfield’s tradition of high quality, community-focused sporting, cultural and festival events. The company will be flexible and open to suggestions and opportunities in supporting, developing and organising new events. Events will incorporate a variety of scales, organisational models and indoor and outdoor locations.
Headed up by Chris Alexander, a former head of culture and tourism at Sunderland Council, whose responsibilities included an events portfolio worth more than £1 million. The group has already attracted a five figure sum of investment from member partners and benefactors.
Explaining the reasoning behind the company, founding member and marketing expert, Nadio Granata, explained: “We recognise and understand the pressures on local authorities as the austerity cuts continue to bite hard. But we feel strongly that events such as the Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival, the Caribbean Carnival, the Festival of Light and the Big Screen Weekends provide fantastic fun to the people of Huddersfield and beyond. Nobody wants these to disappear, in fact, we want more of them but it is increasingly unlikely that the council will be able to contribute financially to these events in the foreseeable future. So, if we want great things for the town then we need to find new ways of providing them.
“Huddersfield Live! will use private donations, sponsorships and advertising fees to cover its costs and wherever possible will offer a profit share with partnering charities. If successful, we intend to convert the company to a Community Benefit Society and issue ‘community shares’ further down the line. These are options for people or organisations to buy into the company with the chance of making a return on their investment over a few years. It’s not likely to generate a massive financial return, but it will be a community-friendly way of providing the capital required to bring great events to the town or indeed complement existing events over a number of years. We will be the first town in the country to achieve this, so I am told, and are working hard to provide a blueprint for others to follow.”
Alexander added: “Stafflex have pulled together a number of people to form an advisory board who, over a period of several months, have been canvassing opinions and researching into the opportunities. I was delighted when they invited me to be the project director and to oversee the setting up of the company and the development of the launch programme of events starting this summer with a 5km Family Fun Run. We will be announcing the details shortly, followed by more details of another family activity in the autumn and a really innovative and exciting event on the run up to Christmas. More events are in the planning stages for next year but it’s too soon to reveal the details just yet. This will not be an easy task by any means, but it will be extremely worthwhile and I am convinced it will pave the way for other towns and cities to follow.”