How important is it to be recognised by the burlesque community for what you do?
Very, very important. We designed Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival to be a festival for the burlesque community as much as for our non-performing audience members. We know that every year, artists who aren’t performing at the Festival take the weekend out to come to Yorkshire and network with other performers and that’s one of the things we wanted the Festival to do - to be a gathering where performers can learn from and be inspired by each other.
Lady Wildflower and Heidi Bang Tidy, Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival co-producers
Any exciting projects coming up?
Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival 2017! Our fifth year and our biggest event yet. 27th - 30th April. Save the date!!! We have some other projects in the pipeline but we can’t go public with them yet.... How nervous do you get before the big event? We don’t get nervous so much as excited and a bit giddy - we are heading into our fifth year in 2017 and we have an incredible team, many of whom have been with the Festival from the beginning so it’s a fairly well-oiled machine now. Although, when we were standing in the wings watching the crowd go bonkers waiting for Perle Noire (click here to read her interview) to step out on stage, we were both full of butterflies.
What do you like most about the burlesque industry?
That the industry is a place for kick ass, creative men and women to work hard, play hard and love each other even harder. We both feel at home here.
Scotty the Blue Bunny on stage at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival Gala 2016. Photo by James Millar.
What are the challenges you face when organising your event?
Time! For 2 main reasons:
1) Too much awesomeness, not enough time. Every year, we start with a wishlist of performers we want to invite to join us and every year we lament the fact that we only have 4 days to cram everything into.
2) It’s just us! Some people think that we are a huge organisation and although we have an amazing core team who we work with but for the greater part of the year it’s just the two of us pulling later nights, writing lists, sending emails, crunching numbers and making spreadsheets. We often say we wish we could clone ourselves!
How long does it usually take to put everything together.. from the idea/theme, to the big day?
We spend a couple of months after the Festival in May tying up loose ends then we start planning again in earnest from September, although by then we usually have an idea of who we would like to approach to perform. From September we spend at least one day a week planning, booking acts, making funding applications, scheduling, building the website and getting ready to announce our lineups. We put tickets on sale in December and then it’s all stations go for the following 4 months. Basically, every Festival takes about 9 months to put together.
Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival "Burlesque Bazaar"
What has changed between your first show/competition and the ones you run now?
So much! We went from a two-day event that barely broke even in our first year to being the first Arts Council Funded Burlesque Weekender in the UK. We still work in the same way we always did - we make all the decisions together but we’ve got better at delegating. We each have our own ‘areas’ we look after. For example, once we have programmed the Festival, Lady Wildflower takes care of all the contracting of performers and logistics like accommodation and I look after the budget. Over the last 5 years we have worked out our strengths and learned to play with them.