FEATURE: Tusk 2015 First Acts Announced | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Lee Etherington once described the Star & Shadow Cinema as Tusk Festival’s “fifth Beatle,” so the closure of that venue’s Stepney Bank location earlier this year led a lot of people to suspect that there may not be a Tusk this year. Thankfully, this week Tusk announced a new – temporary – home at Gateshead Old Town Hall and the first flurry of acts. So the first question for Etherington was whether he ever thought Tusk might need a year off while the Star & Shadow relocates.

“Initially we hoped Star & Shadow would be up and running at its new address by October but that was very wishful thinking of course, as they’ve got a lot to do to get the new place ready – I can’t wait to see it though, it’s going to be great. So we spent a long time agonising over where best to go with this year’s festival, as we do feel Star & Shadow has defined the character of the festival in a lot of ways since 2011. We’re confident we’ve found a good home for it for 2015 though.”

Did you look at any other locations, and why did you settle on the Town Hall?

We considered a few places and changed our minds several times and finally settled on Gateshead Old Town Hall. The main room isn’t actually too much bigger than Star & Shadow’s main room, plus it’s got a full-on huge cinema screen and projector, and we’ve got BLANK running sound etc. again so everything is going to look and sound really great and still be in a venue that feels like TUSK Festival.

Does the increase in size – and possibly the extra spaces within the venue? – create possibilities or add pressures, or a bit of both?

They can become pressures for sure, if for example we’d opted for a 1000 capacity space, then you create your own pressure if you’re not careful. But this place will work well, the main room has a touch of old world grandeur about it, you could fairly convincingly re-enact the ballroom scene from The Shining in there. But yes, I think you do have to try to find somewhere where those differences are opportunities rather than worries and I think we’ve found it. Sage are being very supportive in letting us use the space too, and we had a mass Team TUSK visit there yesterday and we’re all excited about how it’s going to work.

gateshead old town hall

“I think you do have to try to find somewhere where those differences are opportunities rather than worries and I think we’ve found it”

You’ve already announced some excellent acts – will the rest of the bill get revealed slowly as it comes together, or do you have a set schedule for announcements?

Well, we had some delays getting all our funding in place this year (to the point where I thought the festival wasn’t going to happen) and we’re about two months late announcing the festival; so obviously in that time we’ve still had to work as though it was happening, meaning the live line-up is largely sorted now and we’ll announce those periodically over the next couple of months. We still have exhibitions, installations, talks, the film programme etc. to finalise so still a lot of detail to get in place but it’s all in hand. We’ve had some great feedback re: the first announcements though, so we’re very happy and pretty sure it’s going to be another killer festival. I think I’m just excited to see people’s reactions when they see the full line-up and pretty excited to see how it works in this space we’ve not used before. See you there!

Tusk Festival 2015 runs from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th October at Gateshead Old Town Hall. Tickets are available now from Tusk’s official website.

Keep your eyes peeled for a longer feature on this year’s Tusk Festival in a future edition of NARC.!

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