Repositioning Liverpool Arab Arts Festival results in audience growth

Repositioning Liverpool Arab Arts Festival results in audience growth

By Rachael Biggs, Nonconform


Rachael Biggs from Nonconform describes how they repositioned the UK's longest running and biggest annual celebration of Arab arts and culture.

Founded in 1998, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) is a registered charity. It delivers arts and community programmes that bring diverse cultures together, increasing appreciation and awareness of Arab culture and arts at a local, national and international level.

A year-round programme of events and community projects is built around the focal point for the year: LAAF’s annual summer festival.

The festival is the UK’s longest running and biggest annual celebration of Arab arts and culture. Now in its 16th year, it brings a series of around 35 events to multiple venues over a packed 10-day period. It includes over 140 UK and international artists and performers.

Background to the project

Since the first festival in 2002, LAAF has made it part of its core business to be an inclusive festival and introduce both Arab and non-Arab UK audiences to the rich cultural heritage and expressions from the Arab world and its diaspora.

By 2015, the award-winning LAAF had established itself as an excellent model of how the celebration of Arab arts and culture challenges prejudice and fosters understanding between people.

The festival’s scope and ambition had also grown. In order to build on past successes and to respond to current and future challenges, the LAAF board and executive team recognised that LAAF needed to strengthen and reposition its status in the marketplace.

The challenge?

Strengthening the valuable and valued existing relationships with audiences, artists, funders and partners while also attracting the new.

Key drivers for respositioning the LAAF brand

− tensions emerging within LAAF’s identity

There were interesting tensions emerging within LAAF’s identity. It is an organisation rooted in the community but with an internationally significant impact. Expressing this dual identity successfully was a key driver for the repositioning of the LAAF brand.

− the external environment

With news from Arab countries continuing to dominate the media, understanding of the region and its people is invariably framed by images of war and conflict. Yet, it’s a region extraordinarily rich in music, dance, literature, film and other cultural expressions.

The festival positively promotes Arab culture and people, while presenting challenging and thought-provoking work by contemporary artists responding to circumstances they experience or observe.

The festival’s identity needed to be reinvigorated to be unreservedly and proudly Arab, reflecting both traditional and contemporary Arab culture while being an accessible and engaging brand for all audiences.

− audience research and feedback from partners

Research and feedback suggested that previous efforts to move LAAF towards a more overtly contemporary identity had diluted the key message that LAAF is as much about celebrating traditional Arab cultural expressions as it is about showcasing cutting-edge contemporary art.

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Repositioning Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (PDF)

Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2017