Threshold Festival announce tenth and final event for 2020

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Sky Valley Mistress Threshold 2017

Threshold Festival have announced that next year will be their final event, Getintothis’ Kris Roberts with the details and Peter Goodbody reflects on the past decade. 

After ten years the Threshold Festival of Music and Arts are hosting their final event to be held across the Baltic Triangle district of Liverpool, showcasing some of the best music and arts from across Merseyside and beyond.

Taking place on April 3 and 4 2020, the festival aims to continue their tradition of giving a voice to some of the unsung creatives that often struggle to find the opportunity to break into the scene.

Over the past ten years the festival has played host to formative performances from Liverpool success stories such as Stealing Sheep, All We Are, Chelsea Grimes and Queen Zee.

The event has become hugely popular not just for its massive support of local artists, but also for its continued commitment to supporting art of all forms and bridging the gap between the artist and the industry in the form of annual panels and keynote speakers across the city.

Co-creator of the festival, Kaya Herstad Carney, said: “When we first started there felt like a strong need for something of this kind. There was a buzz of creativity in the Baltic Triangle and the city as a whole, but we could see a barrier to many talented artists stepping over that all important threshold into the industry and being able to flourish creatively.

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It isn’t over for Threshold, though. Moving on from the festival format the future of the event will be put to the community themselves via a day of panels and discussions.

Fellow co-creator of the event, Chris Herstad Carney, had this to say on the legacy of the Threshold Festival“We’ve always strived to make the best possible event, but admittedly it has been an uphill struggle at times.

Funding cuts, lack of consistent support and an ever-increasing Liverpool events programme have provided hurdles for us each year, but we were always willing to press on.

“As our team of dedicated volunteers begin to spread their wings and focus on their careers and Kaya & I start to focus on personal creative projects, now feels like the right time to celebrate Threshold one more time. Looking back at ten years of successful events, often against the odds, makes us feel very proud.”

Official venues for the 2020 event are yet to be announced, but we can expect to see the usual venues that have hosted the events over the years, with some new additions that have been growing in the ever-evolving Baltic Triangle.

Applicants for the festival can apply via thresholdfestival.co.uk/tandc, the deadline for applications is November 22 at midnight.

Early Bird tickets for Threshold 2020 can be purchased through Skiddle and are on sale now priced at £12.

The news that Threshold Festival is coming to an end is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising.

For many people this was a highlight of the Liverpool music and arts scene, but it’s been clear for a while now the struggle to stage it has been real.

This was made even more apparent by the “fallow year” taken by the festival in 2018 and it’s temporary re-branding of “Across the Threshold”.

That followed a decision the previous year by the Arts Council to deny funding on the grounds the festival was “other applications were preferred”.

The 2017 iteration had to resort to crowdfunding and that’s not a good sign.

Although the revitalised 2019 version was hailed largely as a success, it was becoming clear Threshold had probably run its course. The lack of big name draws and an uneasy alliance with BBC 6 Music Festival this year (in which Threshold gave itself the tagline of BBC 6 Festival Fringe) did make us wonder where there was left to go.

While the use of varied venues in the Baltic Triangle was a natural fit for this kind of relatively low key outing, 2019 also saw the car crash that was happening in the Best Before venue.

With an outright ban on any cameras (including press) and its insistence that punters covered up their phone lenses with a sticker it was a sore thumb in an otherwise pretty decent set up.

But that was before Yammerer got kicked off the stage in Best Before after 4 minutes with the sound guy apparently objecting to Jason Corbett’s usual unorthodox behaviour. One of our reviewers described Best Before as “All it needs now is a priest”. That kind of calamity cannot be fully aimed at the organisers of Threshold, but it was definitely a sign that something had gone very wrong.

Threshold always had a feelgood factor about it and a real sense of camaraderie, but that, too may be something to do with the reasons why the organisers have decided to call it a day.

It was always pretty much the same faces touring the venues and there was a sense that the audiences were largely made up of members of the other bands on the bill. It had become just too much of a mates’ bash. Don’t get us wrong, we always enjoyed it and we’ve made some great band discoveries there.

It’s a trailblazer too in including art forms other than music as well as discussion forums and workshops. For all their hard work, the organisers are to be applauded, but it was probably the right decision to call time and quit while they were (just about) ahead. We will miss it, though.

Peter Goodbody

Images of the 2019 Threshold Festival by the Getintothis team

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