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Bands drum up cash in biggest charity gig yet
ON OCTOBER 12, Oxford will be taken over by 200 musicians with a difference.
Every one of them will be playing for free at this year’s Oxjam Oxford takeover, the third and biggest yet.
Home-grown heroes ranging from pop pundits Alphabet Backwards to the sinisterly-named Mutagenocide will be taking over venues across the city, from the New Road Baptist Church to the Turl Street Kitchen, via more traditional haunts like the Cellar and Wheatsheaf.
In the past two years the Oxford team has raised £10,000 for the city’s best-known charity Oxfam, now based in Cowley.
This year they have a new leader in Vic Smith, assistant manager of Oxford’s O2 Academy. She said: “I felt it was a really good opportunity to use the skills I have learnt working at the O2 over the past five years to be able to raise a fantastic amount of money for a great local charity, and reward local bands by giving them a great festival to play at.”
The Oxford’s team’s fundraising target this year is £8,000 — £2,000 above last year’s. And they already have £4,000 of that in the bank, thanks to some warm-up gigs.
Other members of the team include production manager Caroline Corke, marketing co-ordinator Abi Lester, and marketing manager Katie-Louise Herring, who led the team last year and will be performing at the festival with her own band Duchess. Fundraising and volunteer managers Jess Hall and Steph Avis are also part of the team of six, all in their 20s, running the show in their spare time.
Two churches have been added to the list of venues this year to allow more under-18s to see more bands.
Another new addition is the use of the O2 as a venue, which will host an after party for all wristband-holders with a DJ set from Radio 1’s Huw Stephens.
For £10, festivalgoers will get a wristband granting them entry to all six city venues, including the Purple Turtle and St Michael at the North Gate.
Almost every band playing has been formed in Oxfordshire, including newcomers like singer-songwriter Sweet William, and Oxford punk legends Black Hats.
Dava Waterhouse, singer and harmonica-player for bluegrass stompers Swindlestock, named after the Swindlestock tavern in Oxford, said: “It is always a well-run event and they are always a good crowd.”
Since 2006, more than 50,000 musicians have played to more than 1m people at 4,000 Oxjam events across the UK, raising more than £2m.
- To buy tickets visit oxjamoxford.co.uk.
Volunteers make the whole thing sing
THIS year there are more than 6,000 Oxjam volunteers putting on 60 city takeovers across the UK — more than ever before — and they are all co-ordinated by two full-time staff here in Oxford.
Rachael Huttly and Anna Sigurdsson manage the nationwide festival from Oxfam House in Cowley. They must approve team branding, organise the London launch gigs next week and make sure volunteers get the help they need.
“It is going really well, “ said Miss Huttly, 27, who lives in East Oxford and has only been doing the job since November. “We are up from 43 takeover events last year, which is pretty phenomenal.”
This year’s national fundraising target is £400,000, of which £250,000 will come from the city takeovers. Miss Huttly said the teams are on track to raise at least that amount.
“We have spent a lot of time training the teams to put on great events,” she said. “It is a model that works really well.
“The beauty of Oxjam is that it can be whatever you want it to be, from busking on top of Ben Nevis to hosting a gig in your own living room, so long as it is safe and legal.”
s This year for the first time, Didcot will be hosting its own takeover.
Local music lover Deano Pavely, 30, is co-ordinating the party with help from Mike Tillbrook, Megan Parry and Aneeqa Munir.
On October 19, the cream of South Oxfordshire’s musical talent will take over the town, including indie pop-rockers Late Night Lights, synthesiser party group Space Heroes of the People and Wantage’s singing, songwriting stalwart Dave Oakes.
The team is still looking for volunteers from sound engineers to leaflet distributors. If you think could could help email email@example.com
A late starter
OXFORD has been somewhat late in getting on the Oxjam wagon, and has only been “taken over” by Oxjam for the last three years.
In 2011, the team was led by music promoter Ben MacDow and included fundraising manager Katie-Louise Herring, and Oxford Mail reporter Pete Hughes.
The 2011 team set the tone for future takeovers, with warm-up gigs at venues including the roof of the Said Business School. They raised a total of £2,500.
The following year, Miss Herring led a new team which raised £6,000 — £2,000 more than their target. They made use of venues such as the Turl Street Kitchen and held a now-traditional summer barbecue with bands at the Swan pub in Wantage.
This year, under the leadership of the O2 Academy’s Vic Smith, the team are hoping to raise at least £8,000.
The O2 management group AMG has already supported the team by matching the funds raised when Miss Herring did a sponsored headshave at the Swan, bringing the fundraising total from that event to £2,600.
The team will also be able to use the O2 as a venue for the first time to host the after party.
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