RISE by Henley Festival 2023
Henley Festival is renowned for its vibrant display of arts, music, and culture. Among its many facets, RISE, the emerging talent charitable programme, has been a shining star, continuously growing and empowering young creatives and professionals. This year, RISE reached new heights, with a diverse line-up of musicians, an impressive exhibition of visual artists, and a dedicated backstage crew.
This year, the programme proudly showcased nine talented musicians on the dedicated RISE Emerging Talent Stage, presented by Westcoast. These rising stars brought a vibrant mix of genres, captivating audiences with their raw talent and infectious energy.
Singer-songwriter Leo wowed the crowd with his whimsical melodies, stating, “I loved being part of RISE. The stage was really cool, and it was so nice having everything set up so professionally.”
The Henley Festival audience were treated to an unforgettable performance by the electrifying band, Horses On The Beach. Lead singer Louisa Hygate praised RISE, exclaiming, “Our experience performing at Henley was brilliant! The support from the on-site team, sound technicians, and artist liaison in the lead up to the event were all supportive and made the whole process as easy as possible for us.” Due to the overwhelming positive response, we will welcome back Horses on The Beach to perform in the Bedouin tent in 2024.
Behind every successful event is a dedicated team working tirelessly behind the scenes. This year, RISE expanded its horizons by including four talented backstage crew members who had the opportunity to work alongside the festival’s Sound, Lighting, and Marketing teams.
Joshua Howes worked alongside PRG, Henley Festival’s lighting contractors. Niall Dainty, PRG’s Crew Chief at Henley Festival, asserts, “Josh was a great addition to my Henley team. Eager to learn and happy to get stuck in. He took to looking after the jazz club venue with enthusiasm. I can easily say that myself and my crew on this job would be happy to have him as a team member on other jobs.” Josh expressed, “Thank you for offering me this opportunity; it gave me great insight into what it takes to put on an event. I would definitely recommend the RISE programme to anyone who is passionate about getting involved in live events.” His only improvement would be “knowing I needed to wear a suit during show times; I only found this out the week before!”
RG Jones, Henley’s sound technicians, continued to support RISE this year, by taking on two LIPA students, Celeste and Bizza. Supported by Simon Honeywill, they were given the opportunity to run and operate the sound desk behind the RISE Emerging Talent Stage presented by Westcoast. Celeste says, “the RISE programme was the perfect combination of guided and hands-off when it came to running our own stage. What a great opportunity for any young person looking to pursue a career in sound, to be given that level of responsibility but with any needed support nearby was amazing.” Bizza agrees, mentioning, “Celeste and I were lucky enough to be in charge of our own stage. Work experience opportunities usually consist of pushing boxes around site, but the RISE programme actually gave me hands-on experience working in live events, and it was the perfect learning environment.”
RISE not only empowers creatives but also recognises the importance of supporting the backbone of any event – the crew.
RISE has also been a launchpad for visual artists. This year, the Ruby and Audi High RISE Galleries featured four exceptional artists whose work captivated festival-goers.
Figurative painter Morag Caister shared her appreciation, saying, “RISE has given me a chance to exhibit a new body of work to a lot of new people in an exhibition environment, and to see the reaction to that work. A highlight of the week was selling my favourite piece to a new collector.”
Artist Sam Smyth, who was exhibiting in the Audi High RISE Gallery and selected by Audi to wrap their Audi Q8 E-Tron Henley installation, said, “one of the really great parts of my experience was having the car wrap commission in addition to the exhibition opportunity. I had a great time in the gallery with everyone, and the response from festival attendees has made me realise that I should continue to make larger paintings.” Sam tells us he has some projects in the pipeline that have come as a direct result of exhibiting at Henley Festival. We all look forward to following his growing artistic journey.
The growth of RISE at Henley Festival has been an inspiring journey, nurturing talent across various artistic disciplines. From musicians to visual artists and backstage crew, RISE continues to make an impact on the lives of emerging talents and the overall festival experience. RISE Manager, Emma Ellis says ‘We have really appreciated the enthusiasm and support that the Henley Festival audience has given RISE this year. Now we are looking to next year and how we can expand and improve RISE. This year’s RISE artists and crew have reinforced how important it is to support emerging talent in a notoriously difficult industry and we will continue to do so.’
As RISE grows, so does the reputation of Henley Festival, as a thriving hub of creativity and a platform where artists’ dreams come to life. As we look forward to the future of RISE and to bringing even more magic and wonder to the enchanting world of the Henley Festival.