Music Features

Cloud 9 Festival

Once the preserve of a handful of heavyweights, the summer festival circuit is now loaded with all manner of events. It’s a competitive marketplace, and with a limited amount of affordable talent to go around, a lot of lower key festivals often start to bear any uncanny resemblance to one another. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Thankfully, there are a number of options for the organiser who wishes to stand out.

The fashionable move is to brand your event as a boutique festival; become a curator, book some obscure bands, and target a niche audience. If you can persuade a respected website to sponsor a stage (yes, that was a hint), you’re almost guaranteed to attract a crowd of beard-stroking hipsters. Throw in some real ales and a few organic food stalls, and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

An alternative option is to go the other way. Forget about specific demographics (do you really think that word featured in the Woodstock planning meetings?) and book a little bit of everything in the hope that your event will appeal to the masses. If you can offer a fun weekend at a decent price, ideally to a poorly served local population, you’ll have a fighting chance of success.

A relative newcomer to the scene, Cheshire’s Cloud 9 Festival, which is set to take place tomorrow (Saturday 6 August), stands out for a different reason altogether.

Rather than approach corporate sponsors, the Cloud 9 organisers have opted to team up with two mental health charities, C.A.L.M (Campaign Against Living Miserably) and Headculture, who will both have a presence at the event. Festival Director Hannah Cox explains:

“We felt that if we were going to get to manage such an amazing event, then we would want to push a charity forward into people’s minds. As well as both charities being based in Manchester, to raise awareness about the high rate of depression and suicide in young men is especially important and personal to our team. We also believe that C.A.L.M and Headculture will have a huge impact on the rural Cheshire community and we’d like their resources to be known so people can reach out without fear or embarrassment.”

Cloud 9 hopes to entertain an all ages crowd of around 5,000 when it takes place tomorrow. That’s a lot of people; enough to fill Manchester Academy 1 nearly two and a half times over. Now visualise that throng of bodies before digesting this fact: every year over 5,000 people commit suicide in the UK.

This is just one reason why charities like C.A.L.M and Headculture exist. Another is that depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems, which are far more common than suicide, are significant and hugely debilitating problems in their own right.

Statistically, males are more likely to commit suicide than females in the UK, but this is a tragedy that does not discriminate; all demographics are affected. The group at the highest risk are males aged 15-44, a cohort likely to be well represented at Cloud 9 tomorrow. Hannah Cox describes how the charities are hoping to get their message across:

“Both charities are hosting a tent with plenty of manic music and activities happening so although we want to make people more aware of the charity, we won’t be pushing it down anyone’s throat. We just hope that at least one person walks away and remembers who they can contact in their time of need.”

This is an important point. Despite the existence of several local and national charities, in my role as a GP I am consistently struck by how isolated and alone many of those contemplating suicide feel. This may sound like an obvious statement, but in truth the vast majority are keen to engage with charities and Community Mental Health Team-managed 'Crisis Teams'. The problem is often one of awareness. Despite the abundance of information available online and at the doctor’s surgery, I am certain that scores of vulnerable people are completely unaware of the support available to them. If Cloud 9 can increase the awareness of these two charities to a healthy proportion of its visitors, it is likely to make a genuine difference. For this reason, I hope tomorrow is a tremendous success.

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Cloud 9 Festival takes place on Saturday 6 August at Love Lane Farm in Cheshire. The line-up features The Futureheads, Ed Sheeran, The Sunshine Underground, and Scratch Perverts. If you're in the area, there will be a limited number of tickets available on the door, so why not pop along for what promises to be a great day out?