My name is Matthew Boycott-Garnett and, with the help of some great people, I am Carefully Planned.
I’d like to thank the following people for being important parts of the history of Carefully Planned so far: Michael Glenister, Amy Tidmarsh, Nick Steedman, Adam Thomson, Hannah Ronksley, Jessica Flavell, Tilly Makemson, Roz Anderson, Taba Easton, Caitlin Murray, Sam Billington, Angela Boycott-Garnett, Chris Lynn, Nabeena Mali, Joy Morris and Sophie Thomas.
‘Carefully Planned’ is a song by a band called Faraquet. Often referred to as ‘pioneers’ of the ‘math-rock’ music movement, Faraquet were a band who made music that was technically complex but ultimately graceful. That masterful combination and balancing of disparate characteristics are what initially drew me to the band and I have been fascinated with the associated sub-genres ever since.
In 2007, when a Danish band called Marvins Revolt posted on their myspace that they needed help organising some gigs in the UK, I was excited by my sudden enthusiasm to get involved. Chris Lynn and I decided to host an all-dayer at Bar 1:22 in Huddersfield and, after much discussion, the guise of my first live music venture (You Are Invited) was established. YAI continued for a short time before I moved to Manchester and decided to start afresh on my own. This was to become Carefully Planned, which was at first held at Kro Bar opposite the University of Manchester’s Student Union. After that, we moved to Saki Bar in Rusholme before eventually settling at The Castle Hotel in the Northern Quarter.
In 2011, I asked my friend Mike Glenister to help me arrange a ‘Carefully Planned’ festival. This went ahead over the third weekend of October. We used 5 venues over two days and around 70 acts played altogether. Around 500 people attended the event and we were very pleased with how the whole thing went. We were already keen to follow on with another one the following year and second time round asked a few more friends to help out.
Carefully Planned hasn’t always been so popular and one of the most important thing about our history is the perseverance through difficult times. Times when very few people turned out and money was lost. Even when that was the case, the core values and central ethos remained vitally important to me as an individual and, to this day, it’s the very same values, etc that determine what I do with Carefully Planned and how I do it.
The performance of live music is a wonderful and valuable thing. It should be cherished and respected as such. Those brave enough to express themselves in a public environment and to entrust audiences with the fragmented communications of their innermost thoughts and emotions ought to be revered accordingly. The simplest summary of what I set out to do with Carefully Planned is to provide a stage and an audience for artists who seek to achieve that special expression, and that special communication, and that special revelation. It is a beautiful bonus that we have made a habit of encouraging such attentive and appreciative audiences to attend our events. It’s something we remain focused on making a continuous achievement and I feel we’ve learnt a lot about how to do so over time.
I have come to learn that a little careful planning – a little bit of understanding how everything is in it’s right place – goes a long way towards making things comfortable and satisfying in life. Comfort and satisfaction are truly, monumentally-important things to continually seek and, hopefully, Carefully Planned can be a little reminder of that.
Now, the annual Carefully Planned Festival takes place in various venues in the Northern Quarter with The Castle and Gullivers forming the hub of our ‘arena’. Since the first festival, CP has featured over 800 acts and nearly 2,000 people attended our most recent event in 2016. Our approach to booking bands and organising the events remains as DIY as is realistically possible and we’re perpetually proud of what we’re achieving and the exposure and support we provide for both up-and-coming and long-term established bands, singer-songwriters and musicians.
As was the case before the festival, we also sporadically organise occasional one-off events. For a long time, this largely consisted of a series of all-dayers but the last of these was hosted in mid-2015 and from now on, we’ll mostly focus on the festival. There will be the odd evening of live music here and there though, whenever it feels appropriate and/or there’s a band that we particularly want to host/present.
I’d like to mention something that I’ve learned about being a good promoter over the years. It mightn’t be the case for everybody who organises live music events, but for me it’s become quite startlingly apparent how important it is to have an open, transparent and thorough dialogue with any and all artists we ‘work’ with. There are many reasons why people become involved in music, and nobody should decide or judge what is and what isn’t valid for other people. Over the years, I’ve personally developed some kind of system to establish an ‘alignment of understanding’ with the artists I contact about playing at Carefully Planned. Occasionally, it’ll take meeting somebody for a moment or so to know that we’re on the same page, and other times it’ll take literally years. Essentially, I look to determine that we recognise ‘what matters’, and, with specific regard to the festival, I’ve summed up what matters to me as such:
1) making the ticket price affordable and fair.
2) communicating thoroughly and decently with performers, agents and the general public.
3) spending the majority of our time working on a line-up that effectively represents a snapshot of the UK’s ‘underground’ music scene.
4) spending a distinct majority of our projected income/arranged budget covering the ‘associated costs’ of artists we invite to play.
5) supporting and encouraging the development and sustenance of local ‘scenes’ and communities.
6) maintaining an open, inclusive and impartial policy towards voluntary involvement in the running of the events.
7) uncompromisingly promoting equality towards and across all axis of identity with unfaltering sincerity.
8) co-ordinating and overseeing considerate and accomplished design of artwork for promotional material.
9) operating a transparent and engaging promotional strategy which encourages a relationship rather than a transaction.
10) appreciating each individual’s raison d’etre and generally advocating common courtesy and respectfulness.
By sticking to these ‘guidelines’ and not being tempted into changing things towards a model that increases our profits, but moves away from our original ethos, we’ve developed a ‘brand’ that really means a lot to it’s biggest supporters. It’s something I’m incredibly proud to be a big part of each year and I hope it sounds like something you’d like to come and get involved in too.
Sincere thanks to you for reading this. Please let me know if you do.
Matthew/Carefully Planned x