With the 2009 London City Showcase approaching (happening May 7-9), we sent a few questions to the woman behind the event Nanette Rigg, to get an insight into an event which has hosted a number of well-known acts before they made a name for themselves.

R13: Explain what City Showcase is and does for those who aren’t aware of it.
NR: City Showcase aims to give new and emerging talent the platform and support to perform to a wider audience including Industry decision makers. We cover all genres of music and showcase music in unusual venues so that people can see the very best new music from the likes of Gallows to Seth Lakeman, the very cream of emerging artistry that they would not otherwise have had the opportunity to enjoy as well as hopefully giving these artists a leg up in the process.

We are working with Westminster Council to build upon our strong reputation to develop a substantial and credible international festival by 2012 and openly encouraging the public’s active participation in the UK’s wealth of new musical talent and showcasing the UK’s creativity to the world.

R13: What is different about City Showcase compared to events like Camden Crawl or Great Escape, both of which are high profile, city-based festivals which promote new and emerging acts?
NR: City Showcase is a FREE public festival celebrating new musical talent of all genres from urban to rock, from classical to singer-songwriters. It faces the public whilst at the same time, being followed closely by the music industry. City Showcase is not a trade fair and does not just specialise in one narrow niche area of the industry but covers all genres as long as the music is of quality. City Showcase works with artists that perform during the festival on going and help the acts with their career paths and with the networks and introductions that they need. City Showcase is non-profit-making. We aim to provide new audiences with a chance to see the acts of the future. As a central London event with showcases in retail outlets and cafés alongside our free evening gigs, we hope we can reach a wide and varied audience.

R13: Given the massive variety of styles you host, what do you look for in an act wanting to perform?
NR: Good original songwriting and talented musicians. We do not showcase acts if we do not think that we can add value to their career paths and development.

R13: Is their any style of music you would like to see feature more prominently?
NR: The key is that the music must be original and distinctive. All styles of music are welcome.

R13: Which acts are you especially proud to have helped?
NR: Newton Faulkner, Keane, Amy Winehouse and The Gallows. There are also many more artists not yet well known but in whom we have confidence.

R13: What does the artist mentoring mentioned on your site involve?
NR: City Showcase helps the acts who perform by inviting them to workshops, masterclasses, providing one to one surgeries and giving them individual advice and direction where requested. We often send music and links to A&R and the trade where we think it appropriate if we think it will assist an artist. Through City Showcase, acts have the opportunity to understand how to establish and lengthen their careers through both traditional and non-traditional methods. We also hold songwriting masterclasses in association with societies like SongLink and ASCAP. In 2008 50 of our invited songwriters attended a series of masterclasses with legendary songwriters such as Graham Gouldman, Bill Padley, and Nicky Chinn.

R13: How do you go about securing funding for the festival?
NR: We rely on people giving their time and services for free or at substantially discounted rates. The balance is paid for by commercial sponsorship. It is hard work but each year we manage. We are really pleased that the PRS Foundation has supported us each year.

R13: Are you concerned about the future success of the event given the current economic climate?
NR: No. We have suspended our £5 wristband and are determined to encourage participation in and access to new music and nurture the “feel good” factor of music. It is also important to foster a sense of confidence and positivity. The 2009 event will be free so it’s offering the public a great opportunity to come and watch great new talent in top locations in Central London absolutely Free. 2009 will be a difficult year as commercial sponsorship budgets are substantially reduced, however, Working with Westminster Council and Westminster’s landowners and retailers we are confident that from 2009 the event will grow into a substantial international festival for new music and a core proposition for London’s West End through the 2012 Olympics and onwards encouraging the public’s active participation and showcasing the UK’s creativity to the world.

R13: Do you feel that the music industry in general is suffering at the moment due to the recession, illegal downloading and closure of venues?
NR: This is a hard time for the music industry. Everything that was once held as standard is changing and there is a real challenge finding a commercial business model in today’s economic climate. The industry is, however, used to change. Our currency are the people we work with, both our staff and our talent. We are naturally innovative and creative and are well placed to come out of the recession with a vibrant and fresh approach. People will always want to listen to a great piece of new music.

R13: How important do you think that events like this are to emerging artists?
NR: New artists need all the support they can get to kick start their careers and that means exposing themselves to a critical audience. In City Showcase we also work with artists to assist their on-going development. The old business model whereby writers and artists would look to ‘get signed’ is no more and City Showcase aims to help guide people in how they can build their talent and their careers in alternative ways.

City Showcase takes place in early May, go
here for the event’s website where you can find out more.