This April saw the new Leeds Digital Festival take off. It started with a small group of us meeting at the Midnight Bell on Water Lane. It came out with 56 events, many packed, with 170 speakers and thousands joining in. We had a great, creative partnership with Live at Leeds, the iconic 10 year old music festival, culminating in the extraordinary Algorave at Headrow House. Leeds, and the area around Leeds – the Leeds City Region – are buzzing with activity, with possibilities and with expectation for the future of the digital economy.
We benefited from seedcorn sponsorship from Leeds City Council, and attracted initial sponsorship to help us engage a festival director, and put on a first, toe-in-the-water but hugely successful event. We’ve learnt a lot, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t – and now, with potential sponsors tremendously keen to be associated with something that’s already proved itself – we’re planning for 2017.
This week the steering group which put the 2016 festival on, met again and set the wheels in motion for 2017. We agreed – why wouldn’t we? – that we would do it again. We think we’ll have much better resources, and this time we’ve got the best part of a year to plan. Stuart Clarke will again be the director, and again we’ll partner with Live at Leeds, in the last week of April. We’re a digital festival – we know we need a great website, and we will. We know we need to shout louder, and we will. We have confidence born of success.
We hope we’re on the way to creating one of the great urban, digital festivals, celebrating the great city and region of Leeds, their brilliant venue, wonderful people and our burgeoning digital industries – in sport, health, data, finance, gaming and creativity. And we at Berwins – with our Berwins Digital office at Calls Wharf – are playing our part to the full.