‘People’s festival’ Africa Oye under threat from rising costs.
The artistic director of the 28-year-old festival has warned that funding is a constant challenge
The artistic director of Liverpool’s Africa Oye live music event has said that he is still fighting to keep the festival free due to funding issues.
Founded in 1992, the event has gone on to become one of the leading celebrations of African and Caribbean music in the country.
Last year the award winning event based in Sefton Park broke attendance records and is set for a return this June. But artistic director Paul Duhaney told the ECHO that despite the huge crowds and recent accolades, he is still faced with perennial challenges.
Paul, who moved to Liverpool in the 90s from London, said: “Funding represents a continual challenge for us at Africa Oyé. Although we are still attracting a massive audience, our costs are also rising.
“For example, last year it cost £12,000 to clean up the park after the event, and security now stands at around £17,000. A lot of people assume that the council can pay for everything but that is not the case.
Paul Duhaney, artistic director of Africa Oyé
“We have to pay for the big clean-up afterwards, not the council. Our major funder is the Arts Council and after that its Liverpool Council.
“We want to keep this a free event, but we need people to support us through donations and investment. And we provide the ideal platform for local businesses that want the exposure.”
Liverpool music festival asks for support to help keep event free
Africa Oyé moved around the city during the 90s, from the Irish Centre at the top of Mount Pleasant and over to Birkenhead Park. Paul explained that there was then a conscious decision to try and move the event back into the city centre to try and reconnect with the L8 community.
He said: “The event is very closely rooted in the Toxteth area and we did not want to lose the connection. So we came back into the city and Sefton Park is the ideal home for us. “
But Paul added that the event has a strong international dimension too. He said: “I travel the world promoting the event and trying to secure the best artists.
It’s amazing when I am in Uganda or somewhere and people approach me and ask me about Africa Oye. “
Founded by the Glasgow-born Kenny Murray in the early 90s, Africa Oye, was born out of the adopted Scouser’s love affair with world music. The event grew out of a pirate music station Kenny ran which developed a cult following in Toxteth.
Kenny said: “It has been a lot of hard work over the last nine months. But in Cuba and Africa we have a reputation at being very good at what we do and being ‘nice’ people.
“Visiting musicians alway want to come back to Liverpool because they have such a good time and there is a good vibe. The interaction with the audience is great.”
He called the event “the people’s festival”, adding: “Most Scousers can learn to dance in two or three minutes and they are party people.”
The event began as a series of gigs in the city centre before it moved to Sefton Park in 2002. Paul said that while celebrating the L8 community, Africa Oyé was also about promoting the continent of Africa in a positive light.
He said: “We want people to know that there is a bit more to Africa than poverty, war and famine.”
Paul said he was also particularly proud of the event’s trouble-free reputation. He said: “I cannot recall a serious incident involving the police at Africa Oye over the years. I am proud of that. We are a family event.”
Africa Oye returns this summer on June 20 and 21 at Sefton Park. For more information go here. To enquire about sponsorship email firstname.lastname@example.org