Outlook Festival
© Benjamin Eagle

Outlook and Dimensions: Interview with founder Joe Barnett

Outlook and Dimensions entertain thousands at the atmospheric site of Fort Punta Christo: we speak to the man who started it all

Written by
Justin McDonnell

A relative newcomer to the festival circuit, Dimensions has already established itself as a major player in the international dance music scene. This year's line-up, including funk legend George Clinton, electronica-trailblazers Four Tet and fresh talent Little Dragon, looks cert to confidently entertain the thousands of revellers who flock to the historic site of Fort Punta Christo.

In the same month, it's older brother Outlook will also be holding the fort. With a penchant for reggae, bass and breaks, the selection criteria is concerned with artists who have a well-earned rep for making crowds go crazy (this year's line-up, including SBTRKT, Jurassic 5 and Kate Tempest is testament to it's creative approach to curation) Time Out speaks with the man who started it all, Joe Barnett, to discuss the history of music festivals in Croatia - and, more importantly - what the future holds.

Firstly, Why Croatia?

The catalyst for the festival in the first year, 2008, was the offer from the team behind the Garden Festival to join them and utilise the site in Petrčane. We knew what they were doing out in Croatia at the time and the potential seemed enormous for more UK-organised events to take place in Croatia. We haven’t looked back since.

What are the pros and cons of holding a festival in Croatia?

Organising a festival in another country was never going to be the easiest challenge to take on. There are certainly times that I long for a UK green-field site for the simplicity of delivering the event – but that feeling never lasts long when you remind yourself of the reaction of the customers, artists and staff to the event and atmosphere we are able to create in Croatia. Sunshine, beach, a permanent campsite, a harbour to run boat parties from, an abandoned 19th-century fortress and a Roman amphitheatre built 120BC make for a festival experience that you just can’t match in the UK. Combine that with a country that welcomes both us as a company and our customers with open arms and any difficulties in the job fade into the distance very quickly.

So could you call it a scene – and how do the festivals interact?

Since we launched in 2008, there has been a surge of festivals here, largely organised by UK promoters. I welcome all the attention that the Croatian scene has created. The Outlook and Dimensions brands have stayed strong for what they represent and I think the presence of other events only helps. There is a lot of respect for all the projects taking place in Croatia, for sure. We have helped other festivals in terms of infrastructure and leniency on artist bookings.

Tell us about your audience – and what they can look forward to in 2015

Outlook attracts around 55% British customers and the other 45% is made up of a very varied global demographic. Dimensions has a more European crowd. We are always looking at ways to bring on board more customers from Croatia and offer reduced tickets.

Our Dimensions headliner is George Clinton – it’s always rewarding to be able to attract a legend like that. In terms of changes to the festival itself , we always move the site around and switch up the stages to keep the experience fresh.

How do you see the Croatian scene panning out?

I think that there is scope for more to take place in Croatia. People have talked about it moving towards the new Ibiza – I can’t see that happening. I think the festival reputation that the country has garnered will continue and expand.

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