The latest Music in the Gardens looks like being a record breaker.
As preparations start for next year’s tenth anniversary of the concerts in the Botanical Gardens, organisers are reflecting on how the event dodged last weekend’s downpours to help secure big attendances.
“It was a triumph all round,” said joint production manager Andrew Bates. “It went as well as anybody could have expected. The weather was kind, and we probably sold more tickets than we have ever done before.”
And that would mean a record sum for charities supported by the organisers, the Rotary Clubs of South Yorkshire. The most raised so far is £60,000 in 2011.
Concerts by the Glenn Miller Orchestra UK (Thursday) and the Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra for the Last Night of the Proms (Saturday) both attracted audiences of about 1,500, Friday’s concert by synthpop band Heaven 17 was a 2,900 sell-out, and the closing night with South African acapella ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo drew about 2,600.
Staging a concert on the Sunday instead of the Wednesday helped to boost the attendance, as did the weather. As forecasts of heavy rain failed to materialise on Sunday, The Design Studio in Ecclesall Road, for example, sold £1,700 worth of tickets for Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Andrew said Music in the Gardens had been “extremely lucky”, with the weather, especially on the Saturday when there was a downpour and thunderstorm shortly before the concert.
“But as soon as the BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Andy Crane came onto the stage, the sun came out and people were taking their anoraks off. I was watching the weather forecast all day Saturday and it was for heavy showers from 7pm to 9pm.”
Sunday’s performance by the South African group was “astonishing”, said Andrew.
“It was one of the quietest audiences I can remember. They were spellbound. Ladysmith Black Mambazo were hypnotic.”
There was another bonus. “The Sunday night audience took their litter home. There was hardly any litter for us to clean up. They did us proud!”
Rotary club members help with much of the organisation and cleaning up, but, increasingly, specialist safety, security and technical expertise has to be bought. Another significant rising cost is insurance.
Attention is turning to the tenth anniversary in the Botanical Gardens, and it is also planned to have three concerts on consecutive nights at the City Hall, in November 2015.