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RespectFest 2014 - Andover Music Academy

Andover has always been full to the brim with up and coming musicians. We see them every day in the town centre, whether they be on their way to college, busking on the High Street, or playing in one of our local venues at the weekend. We are incredibly spoilt here in Andover although recently I have noticed a serious shortage of music venues. So many places have closed down, been taken over, or simply decided not to partake in the plethora of talent which exists (I cannot with a good conscience use the word “thrives” harking back to my previous point) in our little town.

One of the avenues which supply us with these talented musicians is Andover Music Academy, part of Andover College. Yes, there may not be as many venues in which to exhibit their talents, but they have found another way of putting their skill and creativity to good use; a good cause.

RespectFest 2014 is the third in a line of Pro – Equality events which have been staged by Andover College with the Music Academy at the forefront. The Festival will be divided into two separate days with a different format for each.

The First, which is taking place on 11th March 2014 at Sparsholt College, will be displaying mainly acoustic music from college bands throughout the day. The main focus for this event will be disability awareness, specifically the Ichthyosis Support Group Charity and raising funds for an education initiative in The Gambia. Next year Andover College and Sparsholt College are sending a select number of students to The Gambia to begin making some headway in this area and to become more familiar with the people they are aiming to provide support for.

The second event will be taking place on 26th March 2014 at The Lights, Andover. The day will be set up around a “Battle of the Bands.” Obviously we are all aware of what this entails. It is a tried at tested concept which has been prevalent in the music industry for many years. However, this is a “Battle of the Bands” with a bit of a twist. Each band will be raising money for a charity of their choice. They will have a pot on stage into which they will be encouraging the audience to place their donations. This sounds like a very simple idea, but it is a really effective one. Of course, people have used music to raise money in the past, but I really like this idea because it makes the bands much more personable to the audience, therefore hopefully raising more money, more awareness, and more recognition for the bands.

In addition to this, there will be two smaller events to engage with local schools in order to get them involved as much as possible on the 26th. The students in their final year at the schools will be given the opportunity to audition for a place in the Battle of the Bands on the 26th. This is a fantastic way for Andover Music Academy to raise their profile in the local area.

The events have been mostly organized by the music students at Andover College as part of their Music Performance course with input and guidance from tutors and students from both campuses. I think this a wonderful way of not only making others aware of local charities, but also raising the awareness of the students. It is also getting them used to communicating with people in and outside of the music industry. These skills are so important and it is great to see them practicing this at an early stage in their careers.