You may be surprised to know that it’s one of the biggest international music events in Europe – It’s FOCUS Wales and it takes place here in Wrexham every May.
Organised by local musicians, Andy Jones and Neal Thompson, the event attracts over 2,000 applications from artists across the globe who want to come and showcase their talent here in Wrexham.
“8,000 people who flock to Wrexham from all over the globe”
Since it began in 2010 it has gone from strength to strength and is now attended by over 8,000 people who flock to Wrexham from all over the globe to see what’s happening here for three days in May. Who’s playing, who’s new and who’s the one to watch. It’s not just music that brings in the crowds, there’s also spotlights on the arts, film and comedy. Many book accommodation and take advantage of local eateries and tourist attractions – all bringing revenue to Wrexham’s economy valued at £330,000.
We went to meet Andy and Neal, both musicians who met at the former Yale College in Wrexham, to find out just why their event is so successful and what they hope for the future.
They told us that they see what they do as showcasing Welsh talent and helping them get ahead with their careers. It’s a good time to network with others in the music industry and to meet the world’s media. They’ve also forged international partnerships that they see as invaluable to the future development of FOCUS Wales.
We asked why Wrexham? If this is an all Wales event – why not the capital Cardiff?
“Wrexham is a great location”
“Wrexham is a great location for this all Wales event. It has some brilliant venues that are all relatively close to each other and are as diverse as St Giles Parish Church and Central Station to a teepee on Queen’s Square and the arts venues of Oriel Wrecsam and Un Deg Un. It’s also ideally located for international travellers who can use Liverpool and Manchester airports and of course the main road links to the rest of the UK are just minutes away.”
“Wrexham people are very warm and appreciative and visitors always comment on how great a welcome they have received here. Focus Wales is also giving Wrexham a reputation as “the destination” to be for the arts and music in the region.”
“Artists from over 30 different nations”
This year’s event saw international musicians and artists from over 30 different nations as far afield as Canada, Korea, Europe, Madagascar, Brazil and Australia perform to packed venues right here in Wrexham. Next year’s event will be bigger but both have been careful over the years not to grow the event too quickly that way it keeps its professionalism and reputation for quality artists and events.
Before we left we asked them what they thought of the arts scene in Wrexham especially with the opening next year of the £4.5 million arts and markets facility – Tŷ Pawb and they were very clear – “there’s a thriving arts scene in Wrexham and Tŷ Pawb will work if everyone gets behind it. It will be a regional facility and is a bonus for Wrexham.”
“200 bands and 20 venues”
The pair stay busy all year with organising the event and with over 2,000 applications expected again for next year’s event – we left them to get on with what they do best – organising a brilliant music festival with 200 bands and 20 venues.
If you haven’t visited FOCUS Wales yet – we recommend you give it a try and tickets for the May 2018 are already on sale and selling like hot cakes. The first wave of performers will be announced on 24 October so keep an eye on their website at http://www.focuswales.com
Feature photo shows, centre – Andy Jones, Sarah Jones, and Neal Thompson of FOCUS Wales, Amanda Davies, left and Joe Bickerton, right from Wrexham Council who presented FOCUS Wales with an Outstanding Customer Services Award earlier this year on behalf of Destination Wrexham.
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