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By Tristan Harris Thursday 24 July 2014 Updated: 25/07 12:39
BROMSGROVE was treated to an unbelievable aerial spectacle in the town centre on Saturday evening (July 19) when French troupe Mobile Hommes - Transe Express staged a procession and a show for more than 4,000 residents.
The event was one of the final acts of the new-look Bromsgrove Festival which took place over five weeks for the first time, boasting more than 80 events.
The artists, made up of seven drummers and a dancer/acrobat, paraded through the town centre, mingling with the crowd, playing their percussion, sharing light-hearted banter with those gathered and going in and out of the town’s pubs and restaurants.
When they reached the Market Street Car Park, thousands of people - some who had joined the parade and others who were waiting there - were full of anticipation and did not know what to expect.
And they were not disappointed - the troupe countinued mingling with the crowd before taking to the skies.
Almost magically - and somewhat miraculously - after a day dominated by thunderstorms and heavy rain, the sun came out and shone.
The female member of the troupe, on the high trapeze flipped over and showcased her skills of agility, while the rest carried on drumming a rhythmic beat for those watching to clap and tap along to.
The arm of the crane suspending the players then moved to transport the group across the car park over the audience and they were lowered until they were almost touching the heads of the tallest people gathered there, continuing their playing without even skipping a beat.
The event concluded with them getting their feet back firmly on the ground and giving one last drum performance on a lorry stage, leading to raptuous applause.
The chatterings and postings afterwards gave the act a resounding thumbs up with many saying it was unlike anything they had ever seen before.
Diane Bird, from Lickey, said: “What a nice change for Bromsgrove, a woman next to me said ‘you don’t get a chance to see this in the town’ - it was different, and definitely worth going out to see.”
Another person on the social networks said she was over the moon that she was serenaded to by the performers and one audience member suggested afterwards that there were not many events in Bromsgrove which brought people from all ages and backgrounds together.
And, thinking about it, she was right - there was a diverse range of people there, in some cases three generations from the same family all enjoying what was breath-taking live entertainment.
There was some criticism of Bromsgrove District Council in the run up to Saturday for paying £15,000 for the act to perform and an extra £11,000 infrastructure, marketing, production, safety, security and staff.
A Bromsgrove District Council spokesperson said the money for the event came from council reserves which had been specifically earmarked to raise the profile of the town within the region, increase the night-time economy and stimulate footfall as part of the Town Centre Regeneration.
“The funding was agreed as part of the council budget set in February 2014 and was part of a five year funding agreement.”
Some people were saying it was impossible to know whether it had the desired effect - to bring more people into Bromsgrove town centre to spend cash in local shops, pubs and restauants.
It would be interesting to know how much it did generate for local businesses.
The spokesperson added that, included in the £26,000, was the completion of an economic assessment of the investment funds.
“When the report is completed it will be reviewed and used to guide future investments,” she added.
But, whatever people’s views of whether the taxpayers’ cash should’ve been spent on it, those who saw it will agree that it was an amazing spectacle, a unique experience and it did bring people together.
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