A comprehensive assessment of the Love Luton Festival weekend has revealed a boost to the local economy, widespread positive mainstream and social media coverage about the town.
It also shows a much better perception of Luton as a place to host safe, family-friendly events.
The findings come from our review and impact assessment of the weekend which included a report on the financial implications of the festival, revealing higher than expected costs for hosting the event.
The report looks into the spectacular Love Luton 2012 Festival which took place from 6-9 July this year and was organised on the back of Luton being confirmed has an overnight host of the Olympic Torch, which was seen as a good opportunity to promote the town.
The Olympic Torch was carried through Luton on Sunday 8 July followed by an Olympic Flame evening celebration attended by more than 12,000 people.
The weekend also comprised Luton Carnival and Mela, the Big Dance, Bedfordshire School Games, outstanding headline sets from The Wanted and Olly Murs plus literally hundreds of free artistic performances and displays showcasing national, international, local and emerging talent across ten stages in Wardown Park and the town centre.
Due to the significant infrastructure costs in hosting the Olympic Torch to meet the requirements of LOCOG, we decided to host ticketed concerts in Popes Meadow on the Friday and Saturday to offset some of the costs.
De Montfort University was commissioned to undertake an overarching impact assessment of the weekend. Key highlights of the report included the majority of the 67,000 attendees saying it was something Luton can be proud of and was good for local families and businesses. The report concluded that millions of people have been exposed to positive coverage about Luton.
A thorough financial analysis was carried out at the same time and revealed that the weekend cost an extra £100,000 to estimates prior to the start of the festival. The total deficit of the event was £394,000.
Our report concluded that the main reasons for the extra costs were lower than expected tickets sales and sponsorship, higher production costs due to the poor weather, increased marketing and the last minute announcement that Lewis Hamilton would be carrying the torch through the Luton town centre which required extra security and infrastructure.
Cllr Hazel Simmons, Leader of Luton Borough Council, said: “We should not lose sight of the fact that we have delivered the most spectacular event in Luton’s history, which not only brought the community together like never before, but also put Luton on the map for all the right reasons.
“The positive media coverage and the boost it gave the local economy has been unprecedented and we are equally delighted that tens of thousands of people had a wonderful time that exceeded their expectations. I have lost count of the number of emails and phone calls I have had asking that we do it again next year.
“However, we do have to balance all of these positive factors against the fact that things didn’t quite go in our favour in terms of the amount of tickets sold.
“While we are confident that we did everything we could to sell as many tickets as possible, including acting on advice given to us from variety of industry professionals throughout, things just seemed to go against us in this regard.
“This of course wasn’t helped by the unfavourable weather throughout the weekend and has regretfully left us with an overspend.”
Our Executive will be meeting on Monday and will be reviewing a report on budget monitoring. They will consider how the £394,000 deficit may be funded.