The inaugural Otherlands Music and Arts Festival took place in the grounds of the picturesque Scone Palace in Perth, Scotland, this summer. The Fair production manager Lana Elworthy reflects on the experience of producing a new festival during an incredibly challenging season.
As a production company specialising in producing independent festivals, we’ve seen first-hand the struggle for independents to procure infrastructure in this demanding climate. In part due to larger events with more considerable capital returning post-pandemic, for example the Commonwealth Games and Glastonbury. At points, it felt impossible to compete with.
When Edinburgh-based promoters Fly asked us to team up to produce this show, we knew it would be unique. There wasn’t anything like it on offer in Scotland and we were excited to be part of bringing something fresh and exciting to such an iconic venue.
Otherlands promised to be a new type of festival for the area, not only offering music, but wellness treatments, comedy, art and workshops. Being 2022, the lead up to this show was not without its challenges. With the combination of a brand-new independent festival, a year of slow ticket sales and increased costs in every department, we felt the odds were stacked against us at times.
Five years after the Fly team originally dreamt up Otherlands, infrastructure, staffing and haulage costs have increased beyond belief. At one point, we struggled to find fencing and came close to paying triple what we would have just a year previously, purely due to the increase in haulage.
Then came the ticket sales. 2021 was seen as a hugely successful season for promoters. This year in comparison, tickets across all types of events have been slow to move. Shows weren’t selling out as consumers knew they could get tickets through the secondary market leading to a churn rather than an increase in sales. It led to many cancellations across the UK. Understandably, promoters and event organisers everywhere were feeling nervous.
We ultimately decided to reduce the event’s footprint to make savings, which we know many festivals unfortunately had to do this year. We wanted to ensure that we delivered the best event and future-proofed the festival. There were many things we weren’t willing to sacrifice. We kept what made Otherlands special at its core, the creative production, the ample facilities, the wellness area and the diverse programming.
Despite the challenges, it was a spectacular three days and three nights of arts, music and culture. We made the most of what was available to us locally. Luckily for us, Scotland has talent by the bucket load.
We were very fortunate to have many fantastic companies and suppliers based in Perth and the surrounding areas, which had exactly what we needed. Presumably, some were born out of T in the Park, the 70,000-cap camping festival which for 17 years was just a few miles down the road from our site. Our plumbing supplier Tempsite is based just eight miles away. Our cabin supplier Scotbox, just three.
The result? Rave reviews, more than £1 million generated for the local economy, and over 400 jobs for the community.
Images: Michael C Hunter & Rory Barnes