“We started five festivals ago, in 2011”, explains Chris Carney, Producer and Co-Founder of Liverpool’s Threshold Festival. “The idea was to promote & celebrate grassroots music and arts in Liverpool and further afield.” According to Chris, at the time there was “a real creative boom in the city”, so their main ambition was “to show as many people as we could over three days.”
Fast forward to April 2016, Liverpool is fast becoming one of the most fertile creative hubs in the country and Threshold is regarded as an essential part of the Merseyside cultural calendar. Taking place in the city’s cultural quarter, The Baltic Triangle, it is more than just a showcase of local talent. In many ways it is a showcase of Liverpool as a cultural centre of the North West. Chris tells us that at the dawn of the Threshold era, the area itself barely had any pavements and little in a way of street lighting. Now it’s a thriving centre of Liverpool’s nightlife that can easily rival other nightlife spots in major cities across the country.
Aside from the bigger bookings and acts put forward by local promoters, this year’s event attracted over 3000 artist applications. But in spite of its popularity and rapidly growing status, at its core Threshold is still a proudly grassroots event that aims to give voice to new and emerging talent across the arts spectrum. Visual arts, theatre and music are all part of the Threshold mix. Venues themselves – from a giant disco ball and wooden beams of 24 Kitchen St to the retro charm of the Lantern Theatre – add to its special charisma.
We joined Threshold on Saturday, 2nd April. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of an event bursting with genuine community spirit and artistic imagination but little time for any notions of genre or trends. Where else would you see Radio Two’s “Folk Record of the Year” nominees Gilmore & Roberts, poly-rhythmic tribal noise trio Barberos and a theatre dedication to Thatcher’s death involving twerking and rubber gloves filled with milk. Yep, all on the same bill.
To get an insight into the ideas behind this event, we had a chat with some of the people who made it all happen. Sit back and enjoy the view.
Video credit: Helen Griffiths videography