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What's happened to Sidmouth?

GUEST,Chris Porter 04 Mar 11 - 12:45 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Mar 11 - 01:57 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 04 Mar 11 - 02:10 PM
VirginiaTam 04 Mar 11 - 02:18 PM
Old Vermin 04 Mar 11 - 02:22 PM
SteveMansfield 04 Mar 11 - 02:49 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Mar 11 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,Chris Porter 04 Mar 11 - 03:11 PM
Herga Kitty 04 Mar 11 - 03:37 PM
Herga Kitty 04 Mar 11 - 03:38 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Mar 11 - 03:40 PM
GUEST,Chris Porter 04 Mar 11 - 03:46 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Mar 11 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Chris Porter 04 Mar 11 - 04:28 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Mar 11 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Chris Porter 04 Mar 11 - 04:45 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Mar 11 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,Chris Porter 04 Mar 11 - 05:08 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Mar 11 - 05:10 PM
Spleen Cringe 04 Mar 11 - 05:44 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Mar 11 - 05:45 PM
Old Vermin 04 Mar 11 - 06:05 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Mar 11 - 06:15 PM
Surreysinger 04 Mar 11 - 07:57 PM
Richard Bridge 04 Mar 11 - 08:10 PM
Dave Earl 04 Mar 11 - 08:37 PM
LesB 05 Mar 11 - 03:09 AM
Ruth Archer 05 Mar 11 - 03:32 AM
GUEST,John MacKenzie 05 Mar 11 - 03:50 AM
GUEST 05 Mar 11 - 04:04 AM
GUEST,JM 05 Mar 11 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,JM 05 Mar 11 - 05:34 AM
GUEST,Chris Porter 05 Mar 11 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 05 Mar 11 - 05:45 AM
VirginiaTam 05 Mar 11 - 05:48 AM
Continuity Jones 05 Mar 11 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,Chris Porter 05 Mar 11 - 06:08 AM
GUEST,Chris Porter 05 Mar 11 - 06:16 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 05 Mar 11 - 06:16 AM
Bonzo3legs 05 Mar 11 - 06:21 AM
GUEST,Chris Porter 05 Mar 11 - 06:21 AM
GUEST 05 Mar 11 - 06:23 AM
Bonzo3legs 05 Mar 11 - 06:49 AM
Howard Jones 05 Mar 11 - 06:52 AM
VirginiaTam 05 Mar 11 - 06:54 AM
Mr Red 05 Mar 11 - 07:05 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 05 Mar 11 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,Chris Porter 05 Mar 11 - 09:10 AM
Howard Jones 05 Mar 11 - 09:28 AM
Bonzo3legs 05 Mar 11 - 10:47 AM
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Subject: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 12:45 PM

Can someone explain to me what has happened to our dearly beloved Sidmouth FF? I have used the term 'our' because I firmly believe that a festival which has such longevity, has done so on the back of loyal supporters born over many, many years. Therefore, such a festival is very much under the ownership of its supporter base! Looking at this year's programme, it appears to have been hijacked by the current 'let's develop new audiences / appeal to the yoof of today' trendies. Talk about 'throwing the baby out with the bath water' or 'biting the hand that feeds you' ...

Sidmouth, because of its scale and popularity has always had to meet the needs of very diverse audiences, seperated either by age, musical interests, dance vs concerts etc etc. It was 'by and large' over the years a successful formula. But now, the social dance programme and the ceilidh programme has been basically 'axed' with only two 'named' bands being booked to perform - Random and Steamchicken. Normally there are about 22 ceilidhs during the week and season tickets are bought in abundance by the ceilidh pro dancers but not this year!

Also, there has been a creeping mentality of 'bulk buying' artists to obviously strike economically favourable deals. But I am afraid that this just leads to a stagnant artistic programme. In 2010 there was the usual Blue Murder, Watersons, CBS, Tamms and Coope AND Spiers and Boden, Bellowhead, S&B Celidh etc etc .... I am afraid that the belief that people want to watch the same people wearing different hats is born from someone of little creativity driven by money and not by artistic direction.

I love Jim Mory but I don't want to see/hear him providing Mowtown, Tribute music, silent disco etc at Sidmouth 2011 he's too good a creative musician for that.

What have you dome to my festival ... ???


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 01:57 PM

Hi Chris,

It's interesting to hear your perspective, and thanks for the feedback. As I'm sure you are aware, Sidmouth has many constituent audiences, and many people who see themselves as stakeholders in the festival. While we have to make certain decisions for economic reasons, we also try to provide a festival which caters for all of these audiences, and must programme a range of much-loved favourites while at the same time providing new and innovative programming. I will try to deal with your points individually:

"Looking at this year's programme, it appears to have been hijacked by the current 'let's develop new audiences / appeal to the yoof of today' trendies. Talk about 'throwing the baby out with the bath water' or 'biting the hand that feeds you' ... "

Well, I'm not entirely sure where that idea comes from, but I'd be interested for you to provide some examples. Yes, we do things like Motown Ceilidh and Silent Disco, but Sidmouth has always had a silly streak which seemed to be one of its strengths. However, we also have Ham headliners such as Kate Rusby, Show of Hands, The Spooky Men's Chorale, Dougie MacLean, the reunion of Home Service, Roy Bailey and Tony Benn's The Writing on the Wall, Karine Polwart, Peggy Seeger...I'm not really sure how these artists equate to trying to pander to "yoof" or "today's trendies".

In the Bulverton we have a programme that has tried to provide some of the international focus and flavour that the festival has become known for: hence Nidi d'Arac and Anxo Lorenzo. These are fantastic artists with international reputations. The Yiddish Twist Orchestra and Moishe's Bagel are great examples of what happens to international music when it comes to Britain and takes on new influences and styles.



"Sidmouth, because of its scale and popularity has always had to meet the needs of very diverse audiences, seperated either by age, musical interests, dance vs concerts etc etc. It was 'by and large' over the years a successful formula."

I would agree, and we are certainly trying to maintain that variety and appeal to a whole range of audiences with the current programme.


"But now, the social dance programme and the ceilidh programme has been basically 'axed' with only two 'named' bands being booked to perform - Random and Steamchicken."

This is simply not true. If anything, we have taken on board the difficulties with Social Dance in recent years and have gone very much for a "back to basics" programme that features some of the most popular bands and callers: Colin Hume, Mike Courtold, Lynne Render, Barrie Bullimore, Bill & Barbara Kinsman, Momentum, Meg, Molly & Bill, Folkus Pocus and the English Contra Dance Band. There will also be a new programme of afternoon tea dances in the Blackmore Marquee.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that only two ceilidh bands have been booked (are you on our mailing list? Maybe you should be, as the new leaflet with a lot of this information has just been sent out). So far we have announced Tiger Moth, the Simon Care All Stars, Steamchicken, Glorysrokes, The Old Swan Band, The Watch, Hekety, Random, Rod Stradling's Phoenix Band, and there are several more to come. The number of ceilidhs will remain what it has been in recent years - which is actually more like 29, with two per day at the Anchor, one each evening at Blackmore, plus the LNEs.


"Also, there has been a creeping mentality of 'bulk buying' artists to obviously strike economically favourable deals. But I am afraid that this just leads to a stagnant artistic programme. In 2010 there was the usual Blue Murder, Watersons, CBS, Tamms and Coope AND Spiers and Boden, Bellowhead, S&B Celidh etc etc .... I am afraid that the belief that people want to watch the same people wearing different hats is born from someone of little creativity driven by money and not by artistic direction."


Well, just to clarify slightly with regard to last year: we did not book The Watersons, nor Spiers and Boden as a concert band. The S&B ceilidh was offered to me, and as it had not been done anywhere else before, I accepted. It was a popular event which had about 850 attenders.

With your wider point I would also take some exception. Yes, we do book offshoots of different groups and bands. Yes, it is cost-effective to do so. But with over 600 individual events (not counting the family festival), I try to ensure that there is a balance maintained within the programme and that such things do not become dominant. You seem to want us to bring all the individual artists down to Devon for one day and then send them on their way, but this is not particularly sensible in terms of costs to the festival - keep in mind we are still getting the festival back on to sound financial footing and paying off a debt of £60k that accrued from 2005 - 2008. My job is to create an interesting and diverse programme while sticking to very stringent financial controls. We have turned the festival around financially in the last 2 years, but it's an uncertain financial climate out there, and we still need to be cautious.

Having said that, programming offshoots of bands, or artists to appear in several contexts, is hardly a new or even recent idea. Many people like the opportunity to see their favourite artists several times during the festival in different combinations. One thing I do not do, which did happen pre-2009, is book many artists for the entire week. Most artists come in for 2 - 3 days, which helps to maintain the variety of the programme over the whole week.


"I love Jim Mory but I don't want to see/hear him providing Mowtown, Tribute music, silent disco etc at Sidmouth 2011 he's too good a creative musician for that."


Well, Jim Moray wants to do these things, and he's very good at them. He's doing the folk quiz again this year, too. We have had his band for the last two years, so there have been good opportunities to see him in his more usual incarnation; one of the great things about Sidmouth is that it gives artists the chance to do things they can't do anywhere else, and the audience a chance to see their favourite artists in new and different contexts.


I hope this has addressed your concerns. The only thing I would add is that ticket sales have been steadily growing, so it would seem that many of our stakeholders are very happy with the direction we are going in and the programming we're providing. Perhaps we'll see you in August.


Best wishes,


Joan Crump
Artistic Director


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 02:10 PM

Well said Joanie. And well done for being reasonable. Don't think I could have done that!


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 02:18 PM

Last year being my first ever Sidmouth, I can't speculate on how it has changed. I can only say that it was the best fun I have had in yonks and I can't wait for this year's.
I found the selection of artists and activities excellent. My only issue was not enough time or energy to do everything I wanted to do. Roll on August. It can't come too soon for me.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 02:22 PM

Hmm. The leaflet this year did indeed look a bit light on ceilidh. Otherwise, Spooky Men was about all I felt I really had to go and hear.

I understand that there are very many people who are happy to pay to sit and be audiences, and others who do things dance, sing or play. The two presumably coincide to an extent.

My definition of the ideal Sidmouth is to have good weather and do a mix of ceilidhs, workshops, sessions, the Middle Bar and idling round the town and beach, perhaps taking in the odd concert.

And of course meeting people. Quite ridiculous, but our former next-door neighbours from Surrey now live at Yatton in Somerset, are not remotely folkies and are usually met on their day out on the Friday somewhere along the front towards the Lifeboat.

Being short of time last year, I did the bare essentials - Middle Bar and ceilidh.

Well, I know people who go to Sidmouth, kip in the van and just do pubs sessions and idle for the week.

No pleasing everyone.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 02:49 PM

God I feel really old now. I went to my first Sidmouth in 1981, and people were telling me then that it wasn't as good as it used to be ...


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 02:52 PM

Hi Old Vermin,

Keep in mind that the initial leaflet can't really do justice to the whole programme, and can only really focus on selected highlights. The usual workshops, discussions, presentations, talks, ceilidhs (and the rest) will all be there. The Taster Programme, which comes out in April, will contain much more detail about Manor, Bedford and Woodlands concerts, workshops, ceilidhs, and lots more.


I am working on adding to the website at the moment, and it's worth checking regularly for information - I am aiming to make it as informative as I can this year, with separate pages for different aspects of programming. But it's a big job, and has to be fit around other things - like booking artists! Please make sure you're on our mailing list and it's worth joining our facebook group, too - we will be mailing out newsletters and more info about the programme regularly till mid-July.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 03:11 PM

Hi Ruthie / Joannie. Thank you for your time and most eloquent explanation of Sidmouth's programming policy as you see it. It is undoubtedly a thankless task and most difficult to execute.

I was aware of the full list of ceilidh bands who were booked. My point was one of 'excellence' which Sidmouth has always been associated with. I am afraid that TigerMoth do not equate to such as Peeping Tom, Whapweasel, Tickled Pink, Bedlam, Toothless Mary, Woodpeckers, Polkaworks etc etc. Simon Care is brilliant but over exposed with several dance formats under his wing and I am afraid that his rather unpredictable line-ups with his 'All Stars' or 'Serendipity' again doesn't smack of assured quality. Old Swan are fine for the old style 'village music sound' but please don't programme them for the Bulverton which would be a mis-programmed venue for them and us. As someone who attends 4 or 5 whole seasons of ceilidhs around the country I know that I speak on behalf of several Sidmouth faithfuls - until now.

I am up for fun as much as the next person and the themed evenings at the Bulverton are always a good laugh. My point, was the over repititional use of artists which is becoming more evident. I am concerned because it is similar to the useage of so called 'TV celebs' to front programmes outside of their experiences and skill set. Eg What makes a gardener suddenly become a great chat show host (Alan Tichmarsh). Just because Mrs or Mr 'so and so' are good 'folk musicians' why should they be great at everything else they turn their hand to ... also why is expected that people would want to pay to see them over and over?

Oh well never mind ... I am sure that the new Sidmouth will be fine for a while, but just bear in mind that the traditional audience might well disappear over time ... and through death. But maybe you don't want old dinosaurs anymore!!


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 03:37 PM

Over-repetitional use of artists...

Chris - you're not a dinosaur.

Gosh, I remember in the pre-Steve Heap days, when artists were booked for the whole week, and you were lucky if you could get into the Beach Store or Horse and Groom to hear them.....

Kitty


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 03:38 PM

Oh, and if you wanted an evening ceilidh, you probably had to go to Sidford, Sidbury or Newton Poppleford.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 03:40 PM

Hi Chris,

I think in terms of ceilidh bands and quality, we will have to agree to disagree. I think we've got some really interesting ceilidh bands booked so far (and I'm chuffed about the one-off with Tiger Moth), and the end programme will certainly aim to cater for the different ceilidh audiences we attract. We have had most of the bands you mention in the last couple of years - if we booked the same bands every year, no doubt we would face accusations that our programme was stale and samey.

I'm not sure what you mean by "traditional" audience - we have a whole programme of traditional events planned which should make fans of traditional music and dance very happy.

Not sure why they jibe about not wanting "old dinosaurs" either - as I say, the range of programming we offer should appeal to the full range of ages and enthusiasms.

Cheers,

Joan


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 03:46 PM

Thanks Kitty, I don't think I am a dinosaur, I have always prided myself on being very open minded and welcoming of change and new ideas. Change can be a very good thing as it should refresh, build on lessons learnt and enhance our life's experiences. Unfortunately, I fear that I might become just bored in Sidmouth's case.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 03:48 PM

Oh, one more thing:

"Simon Care is brilliant but over exposed with several dance formats under his wing and I am afraid that his rather unpredictable line-ups with his 'All Stars' or 'Serendipity' again doesn't smack of assured quality"

Well, I have the advantage over you as I've seen the proposed lineup - and it's a cracker. :)


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 04:28 PM

Hiya again ...

With regards to dance band line up. There are bands which you have only used once during the past 2 years so could be used again this year such as Tickled Pink, Random, All Blacked Up and Bedlam (used only once since 2006). Peeping Tom hasn't been used since 2006. Trinculo nor Asha have been used since 2007You have used bands for 2 years running 09/10 ... Toothless Mary and Dartmoor so there is no argument for not booking some bands.

Mmm well I danced to Simon's All Stars very recently. Of course it was ok but not waht most dancers would call 'Sidmouth Standard'. Was he not there last year with yet another band Tiggerz??


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 04:37 PM

The All Stars is a different band, with a totally different lineup. That's why they are in an LNE, unlike Tiggerz last year.

Dartmoor Pixies, like several other Devon artists, do get repeat bookings because of the local connection. Toothless Mary had not previously been an LNE band, and I thought they were ready - artist development.

Some of the other bands we have had recently could be booked this year, it's true - but then what do we do next year? Like the rest of the programme, it's about trying to create a balance and not having an excessive number of repetitions.

To be honest, I am not sure that carrying on the discussion at this level of detail is either helpful or productive. Programmers have to have a certain amount of faith in their own instincts and decisions, as well as talking to people whose opinions they value, which I do regularly. At the end of the day, it's ticket sales that will determine the success or otherwise of this year's programme. I am confident in, and actually rather proud of, our programme for this year, and hope that those who do come to Sidmouth have a great time.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 04:45 PM

Thanks for the dialogue.

Just one last comment ... As someone who has spent their full-time PROFESSIONAL life creating inclusive programming for such acclaimed bodies as Rambert Dance Company and the Birmingham Royal Ballet, I must agree that programming is a very delicate balance of opinion BUT it is about meeting audience and participant need rather than massaging the ego of the artistic director. It isn't about making you 'proud' .....


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 05:00 PM

Well, if I am put in the position of having to defend my programming, I am happy to put myself on the line and say yes, I AM proud of it. And the reason why I'm proud of it is because, in my opinion, we have some of the most interesting, diverse, exciting and innovative programming of any English folk festival, and I think our audiences will really enjoy it. Certainly the overwhelming feedback over the past two years would indicate that this is the case.

I'm very pleased that you worked in the arts and consider your programming to have been inclusive and the organisations to have been acclaimed - presumably those are adjectives you use because they are things that you are proud of...?


We wouldn't do the audience research we do every year - and act upon it - if the needs of our audiences were not paramount. By and large we try not to give excessive attention to one person's opinions, because that's not a particularly representative sample. We tend instead to respond to trends in opinion, an example of which can be seen in this year's re-vamped social dance programme. However, when someone raises issues and criticisms on a public forum such as this one, I am put into the awkward position of having to respond publicly to one individual's perspective and criticisms. I hope you will acknowledge, as an arts professional yourself, that it would be difficult for me to continue further with this dialogue in this particular context. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 05:08 PM

Hi Joan, I think you are quite correct in saying that we have exhausted this thread. Thank you for engaging with my concerns. I write first and foremost as a dancer and have expressed my disappointment and concerns for the future. You have defended your position but I will not be attending 'your' festival this year as I will exercise my rite to withdraw my 37 years of loyalty. Thank you ...


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 05:10 PM

Not "my" festival, Chris - but certainly my programming, the success or failure of which will ultimately be my responsibility. Sorry we won't see you this year.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 05:44 PM

I so wish I could get a pass-out to attend. Any tips on how to persuade a folk-averse partner that me disappearing to Sidmouth for a week is a good thing?


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 05:45 PM

Could they not come and enjoy the beach, the town, the huge ice creams, the crab sarnies...? :)


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 06:05 PM

Crab sandwiches. The real point of Sidmouth. Seriously.

Forgot to list story-telling in the more desirable bits, BTW. Just heard Debs Newbold, and very good she is.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 06:15 PM

She is indeed! And she's coming back this year. :)


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Surreysinger
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 07:57 PM

So she said!! :-)


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 08:10 PM

I really think I should try to find more Sidders time this year - but I have the problems of an elderly dog who needs dogsitters and a one-man practice with clients...

All I really want though is the fringe.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Dave Earl
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 08:37 PM

Well Richard,if you can only fit in a couple of days, you can always find a Fringe or Free session somewhere during Folkweek and look into one of the things that Joan has programmed.

People on this thread probably know where I spend most of my time when I'm at Sidmouth (I also do stewarding work for Folkweek )but I'm not trying to force my taste on yourself.

I think dogs can be catered for to a certain extent but probably your clients (I know your profession)will have to do without you while you are in Sidders. - There's also mobile internet option these days of course.

Hope you can get down for a day or two but if not I'll catch up with you at one or two other places around or corner of the country won't I?

Dave


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: LesB
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 03:09 AM

What with all the bickering I keep reading year after year, it's no wonder i've never been to Sidmouth. Mind you, truth be told, i've never realy fancied it & it's too far away from me anyway.
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 03:32 AM

Chris, I am not sure that anyone is led like a "lamb to the slaughter". We make programme announcements a few days before tickets go on sale. We then continue to release information as it becomes available. Customers choose to buy their tickets based on that information, or not. Just like they would at any other festival.

If you choose not to come to Sidmouth this year, that's sad, but it is, of course, your choice. If anyone has any *genuine* criticisms, questions or observations to make about Sidmouth, I am happy to answer them openly and honestly, as I have done with you.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,John MacKenzie
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 03:50 AM

Would Sidmouth be worse off, without all the "Big names", whom you can see/hear ad nauseam, at dozens of other festivals every year?
This would leave the ceilidhs, and the fringe events, official and otherwise. I'm quite sure that Sidmouth wouldn't see much of a decrease in visitors.
It would cost a lot less to run, so possibly the nett result would be, Sidmouth is better off financially.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 04:04 AM

It's one approach, Giok, but it's not the approach of the current management. Doing the bigger acts and running the Ham is not the thing that got the festival into financial difficulty - the past two years, in which we've done big showsat the Ham and Bulverton, but operated much tighter financial controls and generated increased ticket sales, have proved that.

I talked earlier about the many different constituent audiences that Sidmouth has. Many of those audiences see Sidmouth as just being about the bits of the programme that interest them, and think that Sidmouth would do perfectly well without the bits that they are not interested in. The fact that we had so many sold out Ham events last year would indicate that there is a strong demand for these events, and of course doing the big, populist shows brings in revenue which can then be spent on more specialist or risky programming.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,JM
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 04:35 AM

I've got an idea. How about Sidmouth getting rid of all the "big names" AND the ceilidhs, workshops, dance displays, morris, LNEs etc. That would leave just the fringe which I'm sure would put the festival in a better position financially, wouldn't it?..


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,JM
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 05:34 AM

"I love Jim Mory but I don't want to see/hear him providing Mowtown, Tribute music, silent disco etc at Sidmouth 2011 he's too good a creative musician for that."

On a serious note, I've been booked as a concert artist for the last few years and I'm sure people would be bored of me if I was booked again this year. But the Silent Disco is a highly successful event that was originated at Sidmouth in 2009. I don't think I'm imagining it to say it was the busiest LNE of the week last year. It was a very creative piece of programming by Joan as a way to get round noise restrictions that paid off enough to become a regular event and I'm really proud of it. Through the Sidmouth silent discos I've been offered DJing slots at Cambridge Folk Festival, Bristol FF, The Bellowhead New Years Eve event etc - its something that all the other festivals wish they'd thought of and want to copy...

The Motown Ceilidh is a repeat of something that has happened successfully at Whitby for the last few years - and its actually the Eliza Carthy ceilidh band, I'm just the guitar player for that one. If you look in Derek Schofields 'Sidmouth at 50' book there are some wonderful photos of Nic Jones and Martin Carthy in fancy dress playing at "50s rock and roll" night at Carinas in the late 70's. Sidmouth has always had an element of that kind of silliness. And actually, at the core its only a Motown ceilidh in the same way that Steamchicken do "ragtime ceilidh" or Tickled Pink do "80s rock ceilidh" - we still take the danceability of the music seriously and have Martyn Harvey calling. It's not a throwaway event.

And that's not mentioning the hundreds of other serious events programmed over the week, a lot of which is totally unique to Sidmouth (the major new production of the Transports for example). The accusation that it "is born from someone of little creativity driven by money and not by artistic direction" is totally untrue and amounts to a personal slur against someone who is doing a great deal for the festival, and the folk world at large.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 05:36 AM

I think that John has made a good point. Firstly, you can see many of the 'household' names at many other festivals across the country. Eg I was very much entertained by Jim Moray's huge input and hard work into the recent IVFDF weekend in Bristol but ... do I really want to see him at Sidmouth with Mowtown, Transports, Privateers etc etc. Diverse and creative programming vs saturation has to take into consideration the national picture with regards to performance. Sidmouth cannot just rely on 'the lambs' going to Sidmouth purely because it is 'Sidmouth' ... that would be taking a very arrogant viewpoint.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 05:45 AM

An interesting, illuminating and (mainly) a good natured thread. I feel that anyone who takes on the task of organising such a diverse and large operation like Sidmouth, deserves applause. Of course, not all elements of the week will be applauded by all, there are parts of the festival that don't appeal to me at all. but, actually thats not the point. I can always find enough things to keep me occupied, whether it be a session, a workshop, a concert, whatever. Joan will correct me I'm sure, but something like 600 plus events over 7 days? Well worth it, and all taking place in venues within walking distance. Pretty good value for money if you ask me. Plus all the kids events.....(who will become the artists of the future after all.) Good luck to the organisers. I've enjoyed the 30 ish Sidmouths I've been to. Will be back this year. It will be different as ever, but nothing stays the same does it..


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 05:48 AM

Even if you only fringe, no one can deny that some of those sessions are made more special by the dropping in of "big time" artists.

I love the workshops and if having high profile acts which sell tickets help to pay for these, then more power, I say.

I don't know if I could cope with a week of just tune sessions and sing a rounds. I can't dance, so I would get bored pretty quick at ceilidhs.

What is wrong with catering to a variety of tastes? Because of the variety, I discovered artists and styles I never would have considered by name or youtube video only. Live experience is a great teacher.

I would like to see some lesser known artists get a chance at more recognition and some earnings. And I suspect that this is a big bone of contention among some Sidmouth detractors. It is unfortunate that due to the size of the festival and limited venue slots, this is difficult to address. However, there are busking spots dotted around town, a few places not being used to capacity by the festival (pubs, halls, sports club, etc.) might provide stage space, and the Hub outside the Ham provides high visibility. So they are not on the official programme! They would still be part of the scene contributing to the richness of the festival and getting some dosh and recognition to boot.

@ Spleen Cringe
There is plenty to see and do around Sidmouth reachable by public transport for your other half. The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth Museum, Norman Lockyer Observatory, number of railways and railway museums, houses and gardens like Sand in Sidbury and Cadhay in Ottery St Mary's. In Sidmouth town there are historic sites, gardens, esplanade, Jurassic coast, and loads of interesting shops. Not all that is going on is folk music either. I have heard blues, jazz, classic rock, world and popular music coming from buskers and out of pubs and clubs and churches. Variety of non music street performance and street vendors too. She shouldn't be bored at all.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Continuity Jones
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:00 AM

I'll be at Sidmouth and I'll hopefully enjoy it. Certainly I'll go along with the intention of enjoying myself. Those who want to stay at home with the intention of grumping and grousing and generally being miserable should do just that. Or maybe they could divert their energies into putting on their own perfect festival?


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:08 AM

Ralphie, I am believe it or not a very keen supporter of Sidmouth FW having spent good money there for 37 years. I am just expressing a concern on behalf of others with whom I have had many conversations, especially from the dance world.

Dancers unlike concert audiences are not a passive group of festival attendees. For them to exercise and express their passion for music, they do have certain expectations with regards to those bands who perform for them to dance to. The balance is different from concert formats in that ceilidh bands have to perform in a manner and style which make people want to participate by dancing. If they don't, then people won't dance. Concert artists deliver a style of music/song which they have created, want to deliver and are at home with for their own esoteric reasons. The resulting creations are an expression of their own passions and hope that they develop a following and fan base for their music.

Therefore, so called inspirational 'one-offs' are untried and tested, have no track record of popularity and by and large will be using Sidmouth dance audiences as guinea pigs for their own self indulgance. All too often these 'scratch' bands hardly ever surpass the sum of their parts and leave the audiences gagging for 'no more'!! Don't forget, dancers want to dance to a full sound of dance music, not to drool over so called 'dance music stars'. Mmm I am beginning to wonder what personal experience of hard-core ceilidh dancing the artistic director has ...?


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:16 AM

Mmm Oh dear ... Mr Jones has a valid comment but it is only relevant for those people who only have folk music in their lives and therefore seem to think that Sidmouth, or indeed folk music should be the centre of the universe ... how very sad. If I choose not to go to Sidmouth, I will not be sad nor grumpy, I shall be diverting my time and energy into new and different experiences which will enhance my life, rather than bore me.

Virginia Tam is quite correct regarding the need to showcase new and emerging talent. A few years ago at Sidmouth there was a mechanism for 'fast-tracking' Dukes open-mike artists onto a concert platform at the Bulverton each day during the week ... has this creative thinking been disgarded?


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:16 AM

Jim makes a very good point. Sidmouth has always been an event for performers to move out of there comfort zone, and try collaborations and experimental endeavours. The thursday night Drill Hall ceilidhs for instance. The ceilidh under the sea...The Rock'n Roll one..(Brylcreem was in short supply!)
The LNE boxing match between Packie Byrne and Fred Jordan! Yes, silly of course, but, indicative of the sense of humour that is a vital part of Sidmouth...The Dead Sea Surfers providing the entire audience with brown paper bags designed like ukeleles, and making them do a solo!
Jim's silent disco, is just the latest in a long tradition of lunatic activities. Long may that continue....
As has been said. If you don't like Sidmouth, either don't bother coming, or find your own town, and start your own festival. It's nothing that will cost you less than 50 grand. Easy!


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:21 AM

"I really think I should try to find more Sidders time this year - but I have the problems of an elderly dog who needs dogsitters and a one-man practice with clients..."

That is a problem. In Buenos Aires' Plaza San Martin, which is a park near the city centre, there is an area where folks leave their dogs with a band of dog carers whilst at work or maybe just shopping. I tried counting them once and gave up at 100! My point is that maybe some enterprising people could arrange something like this for Sidmouth or even other festivals.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:21 AM

Yes Ralphie, I am all for collaborations and fun fun fun, but these collaborations were always the added value events which helped make the festival unpredictable in many ways. It was a successful formula. However, what has happened is that these collaborations have become more 'professionally' contrived, less spontaneous and at times the main focus for the festival programming and ... ticket sales which they were never intended to be in years past!


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:23 AM

The artistic director is not a dancer, but she speaks to and consults dancers regularly, just as she consults others with expertise on various aspects of the programme. She consulted last year with Cat Kelly, for example, who has rejuvenated Oxfolk ceilidhs. Her partner is Derek Schofield, who also has substantial experience of the English dance scene, and in fact of Sidmouth.

The "scratch band" format will be applicable to two events, out of almost 30.

As I say, we also take the feedback forms we receive very seriously. Hence the changes to the social dance programme (which your initial post accused us of "axeing"). If substantial numbers of people had responded negatively to the ceilidh programme, or if numbers for events were falling, we would take action.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:49 AM

I dare say that a number of ladies and gentlemen who go to the Sidmouth festive have their glasses permanently half empty!!


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:52 AM

Successful ceilidh bands, no less than concert bands, "deliver a style of music/song which they have created, want to deliver and are at home with for their own esoteric reasons." Of course, to be succesful the resulting music must be danceable, but the creative process and motivation are similar, which is why the bands all sound so different.

The point of a festival, to my mind, is not just a chance to see the artists whose work you know and are familiar with but also those who you may not have come across before. In these cases you do have to put some trust in the organisers' taste and judgement, and there will inevitably be occasions when these don't coincide with yours. However to expect a festival to book only the big-name ceilidh bands seems to me to rather miss the point. A festival provides an opportunity to come out of your comfort zone and dance to many different bands, both familiar and unfamiliar.

In the case of ceilidh bands, even more so than concert artists, not being a big name is not necessarily an indicator of quality. Most ceilidh bands are not full-time musicians and there are a great many excellent bands who are not widely known outside their local patch because they prefer not to spend their weekends touring the UK's motorways.

Scratch bands are always an unknown quantity, but when they are made up of exoerienced and creative musicians there's a good chance something interesting will come out of it. And when they make up only a tiny proportion of the programme it hardly seems worth getting upset over - there are plenty of other things to do.


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:54 AM

Bonzo - that is a brilliant idea. However, there is an operation in the area which provides Alternative to a Kennel, Holiday Care with a Host Family

http://www.animalsathome.co.uk/exeter/dogcare.php

Richard, there were dogs aplenty on the camping field. Some on leads attached to caravans. Would Benjamin be ok in this situation, especially if you have an awning for him to shelter in?


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Mr Red
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 07:05 AM

baby?
bath water? I am told there wasn't much of that in the early years of Sidders.

I wasn't part of the new guard that shocked the EFDSS of the 60's with it's new fangled ways and where are those newbies now?

Could they be the new old guard?
And as for yoof - "why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way, what's the matter with kids today?" as the song goes.

I am not a fan of the LNE and all that yoof excess but the Folk world and Sidmouth particularly is a conveyor belt with old fogies stepping off (or falling off) and new fogies coming on board with new fangled ideas and worst of all - they are being so young. Damn them. And talented in many cases. Double damn them.

There is only one thing certain in life - CHANGE.
and if you cite death - consider the change there!

It is the job of us oldies to tut, how else can yoof find what is worthwhile and be themselves?

I don't have to like all they do - but I would be less of a man if I couldn't quietly envy them.

And accept that to get yoof on board we have to meet them half way. My hope is that there are enough sessions and ceilidhs extant before my legs give up. (or my brain).

And can we expect that the ceilidh that doesn't happen in the ford will not happen this year too?


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 07:53 AM

And to answer the OP's question. Nothings happened to Sidmouth, it's just evolved into a new era...you could always revert to the 1954 version...comfy shoes walkies dancing, and no singing at all. doubt if you'd get many ticket buyers. If you don't like the present version, and how it is organised, don't come. There are plenty of other festivals around the country. I'm sure there will be somewhere that you would enjoy. But, I think you are alone. I'm sure that Sidmouth will be a success again this year as it has been for decades.
As Mr Red says. You don't have to like it all......I personally avoid anything that says "Bodhran Workshop".....but I'm strange like that. Not being a singer, I never visit the Middle Bar, or indeed the Bedford. But, I'm glad that they are there. It wouldn't be Sidmouth without them.
And to finish. What other festival could/would put on a concert for Nic Jones with a stage full of noteable musicians and singers including Nic. 1000 people in the Ham, some of whom had been queuing for hours beforehand? And this year, they intend to re-create Peter Bellamys "Transports"
Whats not to like about people who have that sort of vision? And make it work?
Worth every penny. nd family friendly too. (That Andy Cutting nicked my pint once....I think he was 10...He hasn't done that badly has he?)


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: GUEST,Chris Porter
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 09:10 AM

Ah ... The Cresby has awoken! Mmm I think that some if not many, have got me and the point I was trying to make all wrong. I am not citing that the old days were any better as I have not made any comparisons with 1954 or otherwise. My comments were purely based upon my observation that there is a creeping towards bulk buying of artist's time which in turn leads to 'contrived' collaborations, not the spontaneous crazy stuff which used to happen. I just maintain that you cannot run a festival such as Sidmouth with its amazing reputation by using and re-using the same artists over a number of different formats. There is a danger that the perceived 'celeb' status of some artists seems to enable them to turn everything they touch into gold which in all honesty cannot be the case. We cannot lose sight that the ticket price is high enough without now having to compromise on the quality of what the offer is. I, along many others admire the creative work of artists such as Jon Boden, Jim Moray, Simon Care, Sam Sweeney, Eliza Carthy and many many others but just to offer them bookings for themed 'fun' events does no justice to their creative music which I would rather listen to.

The future does lie with the young and last weekends IVFDF was brilliant for just that reason, so I have no problems with youth focused events but you must also remember the more longer lasting artists who have many, many years of performance under their belts but who appear to be missing this year??

With regards to ceilidh bands, I did not intend to dismiss their music as non-creative. Indeed, it is their often wonderful creativeness which does indeed make them all different ... but some are more dancable than others ... I am sure you would agree?


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 09:28 AM

Of course some ceilidh bands are more danceable than others, but that's not confined to the "big name" bands you seem to be demanding. But even danceability is a matter of taste - I think a lot of people might disagree with your dismissal of Tiger Moth.

As for collaborations, again these are part of what makes festivals different. I rather dislike those festivals where an artist drops in, does a single spot, and disappears. The great thing about festivals like Sidmouth is that the performers are often around for several days, doing different things (often appearing in informal sessions as well as programmed events) and getting a chance to play with other performers which otherwise may not arise. Of course, there's no guarantee that these collaborations will work, or even if they do that they will suit your tastes, but at a week-long festival offering hundreds of events isn't it worth taking a risk occasionally?


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Subject: RE: What's happened to Sidmouth?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 10:47 AM

http://www.4shared.com/photo/meQr_Lky/dogs_Plaza_San_Martin.html

Dogs being looked after in Plaza San Martin, Buenos Aires!


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