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50th and last Sidmouth festival?

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Herga Kitty 07 May 04 - 02:34 PM
The Shambles 07 May 04 - 03:24 PM
Scooby Doo 07 May 04 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Crystal 07 May 04 - 03:56 PM
Herga Kitty 08 May 04 - 04:35 AM
Scooby Doo 08 May 04 - 06:16 AM
Phot 08 May 04 - 03:32 PM
Zany Mouse 08 May 04 - 03:36 PM
Liz the Squeak 08 May 04 - 04:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 May 04 - 05:03 PM
Phot 08 May 04 - 06:19 PM
The Shambles 09 May 04 - 02:03 AM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 09 May 04 - 12:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 May 04 - 01:32 PM
Compton 09 May 04 - 08:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 May 04 - 08:22 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 09 May 04 - 09:17 PM
George Papavgeris 10 May 04 - 01:05 AM
The Shambles 10 May 04 - 02:15 AM
fiddler 10 May 04 - 03:19 AM
fiddler 10 May 04 - 03:21 AM
The Shambles 10 May 04 - 04:07 AM
s&r 10 May 04 - 04:43 AM
Dave of Mawkin 10 May 04 - 05:19 AM
Schantieman 10 May 04 - 01:17 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 May 04 - 02:03 PM
*Laura* 10 May 04 - 02:13 PM
Compton 10 May 04 - 04:47 PM
Liz the Squeak 10 May 04 - 05:04 PM
treewind 10 May 04 - 05:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 May 04 - 05:41 PM
The Shambles 10 May 04 - 05:57 PM
The Borchester Echo 10 May 04 - 06:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 May 04 - 07:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 May 04 - 07:25 PM
The Borchester Echo 10 May 04 - 07:37 PM
GUEST 10 May 04 - 08:31 PM
JennyO 10 May 04 - 09:56 PM
The Villan 11 May 04 - 02:59 AM
fiddler 11 May 04 - 03:26 AM
AggieD 11 May 04 - 03:38 AM
The Villan 11 May 04 - 10:27 AM
The Shambles 11 May 04 - 10:30 AM
breezy 11 May 04 - 10:33 AM
The Borchester Echo 11 May 04 - 10:53 AM
fiddler 11 May 04 - 10:55 AM
DG&D Dave 11 May 04 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,MC Fat 11 May 04 - 11:57 AM
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Subject: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 07 May 04 - 02:34 PM

I received this e-mail today from the Sidmouth festival management:

Press Release for immediate use

SIDMOUTH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL FACES CLOSURE

Sidmouth International Festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year from 30th July - 6th August with a fantastic line-up and record ticket sales (season tickets are expected to sell out very shortly for the first time in 20 years), all pointing to a superb event. It is expected to be a landmark in the festival's history and growth, and this year will be televised nationally.

However, there is now considerable uncertainty about the festival's future.
The financial risk involved in organising and staging such an event has grown considerably over recent years, and the current festival management find themselves unable to commit to events in the future without establishing a security fund of £200,000 to underwrite the festival in case of adverse weather.

Sidmouth International Festival contributes in the region of £5,000,000 to the local economy, yet business in the district fail to realistically support the festival's Patron Scheme. Also after 50 years of support, East Devon District Council have indicated their financial support will soon come to an end, exposing the management to even greater risk than before.

Faced with this situation, the 50th Sidmouth Festival will be the last one organised by the current management.

The organisers are aware that this news will shock many of the event's supporters. This decision has not been reached lightly. The only way that the current management is prepared to consider a future beyond the 50th festival is to secure sufficient underwriting.

If there are companies or individuals willing to make significant financial contributions towards this underwriting they should register their interest to the Festival Office by Friday 28th May. Based on the response, final decisions on the future of the festival in 2005 and beyond will be made in early June.

Festival Office, PO Box 296, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3XU, UK
info@sidmouthfestival.com

END
May 7th 2004


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 07 May 04 - 03:24 PM

When these sort of figures are quoted, perhaps it is time to examine if this festival is really where folk wish to go?

It may well not be possible to hold a future event in this form, but to my mind what makes a folk festival is the folk. A week in Sidmouth, with most of the same folk that curently attend the current size and type of festival - will still be the basis of a good folk festival.   

But that is only my view.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 07 May 04 - 03:49 PM

Steve Heap has often said this before,maybe this time it is true.It would be a great lost to the folk scene if Sidders finishes though.I feel smaller festivals run alot smoother with smaller out goings than the larger festivals,that need so much insurance to cover there costs.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Crystal
Date: 07 May 04 - 03:56 PM

Underwriting is always a problem, smaller festivals are being underwritten more and more now (even the Scottish Universities Scottish Country Dance Festival which goes on for all of one evening!) but I guess that the bigger you are then the more money you need and the more can go wrong.

This isn't fair, I'm going to Sidmouth for the first time ever this year too. :-(


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 08 May 04 - 04:35 AM

Sidmouth used to be a small festival - and still had financial problems, which is why EFDSS let John Heydon and Steve Heap take it over....

The public displays in Sidmouth have always been important for getting people interested in the music - I first saw Morris dancers at Sidmouth!

The main risk seems to be that the Arena takings depend so heavily on the weather.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 08 May 04 - 06:16 AM

Kitty,
I remember that year when EFDSS let John Heydon and Steve take over it was in the 80's i believe.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Phot
Date: 08 May 04 - 03:32 PM

I rember when the "sound system" was run, mixed(!), and controlled by one bloke in the back of a Landrover, then when things got a bit more technical, Dennis Connibere, in his greenhouse on wheels! These days it seems to take two Artic's worth of Stage Electrics finest, a huge open ended marquee, a garden shed supported by much scaffolding, a technical crew of sound engininers, lighting technicains, huge mixing desks, light rigs that would'nt look out of place at a Iron Maiden gig.

I appreciate that we expect more from our entertainment these days, but are we losing touch with what Sidders is all about?

Sidmouth has always been, and I hope will always be about folk. Music, dance, customs, from far and wide, and our own traditions.

When EFDSS ran the festival there were so many more overseas teams than now, who will forget the Mexicans who needed a lorry to transport their two tons!! Of costumes? The French stilt dancers, who danced in the pouring rain, and only danced at normal level after two of their troupe had been carted off to hospital!

I really hope Sidders will continue, but does it really need to be this commercial?

See you in the Anchor, if not before...

Wassail!!

Chris


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Zany Mouse
Date: 08 May 04 - 03:36 PM

I must admit I agree with you, Phot. I gave up on Sidders a few years ago as it had become far too big and far too commercial for my tastes.

Having said that I hope it continues in some form or other to satisfy its loyal following.

Rhiannon


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 08 May 04 - 04:55 PM

Given the 'fringe' activities that don't rely on having a booked ticket I suspect there will still be something happening there - after all, the MBS reunion happens without assistance from Mrs Casey.

I have a sceptical mind and to me, this sounds like scaremongering to try and get a more visible backer. Hope it works. Mind you, if it doesn't, maybe we can go back to the sort of festival it was when I first went in 1989, when it seemed much friendlier and more musical.

It was also considerably cheaper! I'm always stunned at the changes in prices at various festivals. If you follow some of the trade stalls, their prices are 25% more at Sidmouth than they are at Towersey, and being the end of the season is not the reason, because they are 25% cheaper at Chippenham and that's the beginning of the season!

LTS


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 May 04 - 05:03 PM

I take it the idea is to put pressure on the council and the local traders to pay if they want to keep the festival, and get all that lovely lolly it brings in.

I hope it works. There is something special about Sidmouth, the way it brings together all kinds of elements you find in other festivals. It's a combination you just don't get elsewhere.

It'll be really shame if we lose it. It'd good to have things that continue, and that you feel will continue after you are gone. Here is a song I wrote about Sidmouth a few years ago:

The sun and the cliffs and the sea and the shingle,
The jingle of bells, and the beating of feet.
The ringing of voices that join in a chorus,
The cry of the seagulls, the shout in the street.
I dreamed of Sidmouth in black December,
And woke and knew where I longed to be.
There's so many summers now, I can't remember,
I've gone there to Sidmouth, to dance by the sea.


The dancing at night, and the quiet in the morning,
The friends whom you meet once again, once a year,
The sights that surprise you, the sounds that amaze you,
Can wake you and shake you, can move you to tears.
I dreamed of Sidmouth in black December,
And woke and knew where I longed to be.
There's so many summers now, I can't remember,
I've gone there to Sidmouth, to dance by the sea.


The dancing goes on, and the music gets louder,
But from high on a hill it is distant and faint,
As you look through the leaves to the dancers below you,
As they move through their motions so solemn and quaint.
I dreamed of Sidmouth in black December,
And woke and knew where I longed to be.
There's so many summers now, I can't remember,
I've gone there to Sidmouth, to dance by the sea.


"Come back once too often, and you'll come back for ever"
Well, perhaps those are true words, in more ways than one,
And the ghosts of the dancers who came here before you
Still join in the dance every summer that comes.
I dreamed of Sidmouth in black December,
And woke and knew where I longed to be.
There's so many summers now, I can't remember,
I've gone there to Sidmouth, to dance by the sea.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Phot
Date: 08 May 04 - 06:19 PM

Just a quick thought, How much does Mr Heap make from Sidders and the other festivals he owns?

Is the new 4X4 tax dedutable?

Chris


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 May 04 - 02:03 AM

Personal comments will only result in lots of views saying 'xyz' is a villain and getting rich or is a saint and not getting rich. I don't see that this matters much as the truth will be somewhere in the middle and does not really matter very much anyway. It is the event and continuing the tradition, that matters.

However, PR does rather sound as if someone is hold a gun to somone's head, I just hope that it isn't being held to the heads of all the folk music fans who have supported this festival in all its many forms, for many years. I suspect that many would continue to do this, whatever the 'organisers' decide to do with the current 'monster' that has been created.

It would seem sensible for many of the local businesses who directly or indirectly benefit from the festival, to be prepared to contribute to enable the festival to continue in its current form. However, I would hope and expect there to be an annual gathering in Sidmouth, whatever the current custodians of this tradition decide to do. Most of the things that I like about Sidmouth and make it special, have very little to do with money. Long may this continue......Up to us to ensure that it does - not Mrs Casey, the Council or local business.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 09 May 04 - 12:55 PM

As I understand it the losses made in 97 wiped out the festival's reserves. These haven't been rebuilt and they depend on underwriting to keep going.

Of course to the average East Devon voter its just a guy in Derbyshire wanting a hand out from their council tax.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 May 04 - 01:32 PM

But they'd badly miss the money we spend while we are down there. If the council nsists on cutting the modest enough subsidy it has given, it'll be a bad mistake.

One thing I value a lot about the festival, which you don't get elsewhere in the same way, is the international dance and music teams. It puts us in a wider context, and I think that is valuable.

Very likely something will continue even if the full festival were to end. But I can't see that aspect of it, and we'll be a lot poorer without it.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Compton
Date: 09 May 04 - 08:11 PM

Would the Sidmouth Festival be that bad if it became smaller (and cheaper??)


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 May 04 - 08:22 PM

There are plenty of good enjoyable smaller festivals. There's only one Sidmouth.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 09 May 04 - 09:17 PM

Somewhere I have a 25th Sidmouth Tee shirt - If I can find it I will be wearing it this year.

I have tried to get to Sidmouth every year - even if it was just for a few hours, but I do not go for the international groups, I don't go to concerts, I play and sing in the pubs and take my drum down on the prom.

I realise I do not contribute to the financing of the event, I don't even rent much beer - but I have never been audience material, always part of the entertainment. This might be genetic, my father's father mummed as 'little devil doubt' - his being about 4 ft 6in tall could be why that came about, and my Dad played an autoharp in his youth -My mother's parents sang, so did she, but not in public.

I have always been there on the fringe at Sidmouth, and I do wonder if the festival was to end, could the fringe still happen?

Of course, by 2005 there might be a law against folk getting together to sing and play music rather than watch big screen TV or Kareoke.

Is it just a coincidence that this might be the last Sidmouth? Should we suspect that there are forces at work to get rid of folk gatherings?

Anne


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 10 May 04 - 01:05 AM

A fringe can look attractive on a head. Without the head, it's just loose hair.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 May 04 - 02:15 AM

Those folically challenged will happily cherish any form of hair on their heads.

The fringe may not have happened in Sidmouth without the commercial festival but this fringe can certainly continue, should the current organisers finally pull-out. As they have been threatening to do - it seems - every recent year.

I do tire of these threats and this brinkmanship. We must accept that the private concern that runs the current affair (and appears to wish to charge everyone for breathing in the Sidmouth air, for that week) - can pull the plug and walk away at any time. And as a private company, they face many risks other than the issue at concern here. Losses in other ventures may cause them to go bust and even if the current event continues - this could cause the festival to cease at any time.

We don't have much control over this or indeed how the festival is run. However, we can make sure that the spirit and tradition does continue on the seafront, pubs and elswhere. Kevin is right, there is only one Sidmouth, whoever runs (or does not run) the commercial event.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 10 May 04 - 03:19 AM

It's good 2 c you all like it!

It's sad 2 c the attitude to the organisation behind it!

It would not be there at all were it not for that organisation.
Harping back to the good old days with no showers - loos consisting of a large pit, not too many untested water points.

Take off the rose tinted glasses and be realistic!

In the good old days we din't have central heating in our houses - would we live like that now?
My Mothers kitchen units were a lino covered board on the bath -
would we live like that now?
It is so expoensive - look at the catering queues on the camp site at 0130 hrs each night!

Would we go to a one week festival (camp site open for 1.5 weeks) in such insanitary conditions.
Even small festivals often take out wet weather insurance, there is about a 1:10 risk that it will rain like fury over the Sidmouth week and what a mess it can make!

I will not argue the point any further - I think for what is on offer it is very good value for money and the fringe events really add to the atmosphere but I also agree entirely, a fringe does not work if there is no hair present!

It woould be sad to see it's demise


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 10 May 04 - 03:21 AM

BTW - associated topic -

It is not legal to have alchohol on the streets and seafront in Sidmouth at any time of day or night!
Extrapolate that in to what we get away with festival week!


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 May 04 - 04:07 AM

As has been pointed out the festival existed in many forms before the current organisers - so it was and is there without them. I don't really think that many are arguing that organising the event in general was a bad thing, nor that the current organisers are bad people. But the current organisers do not appear to be able to run it now or are not now willing to and appear to be holding a gun to our heads.

I will not argue the point any further - I think for what is on offer it is very good value for money and the fringe events really add to the atmosphere but I also agree entirely, a fringe does not work if there is no hair present!

Perhaps we can get this right? The fringe in question is not the word that relates in any way to hair.

The word in this context comes more from the fringe around the edge of a curtain or carpet and has come to mean the events that happen or are organised to happen around a core festival.

In the case of Edinburgh, the so-called fringe is now what many think is the core festival. The main core festival events there may have originally created this fringe (largely by charging high prices) but are now, I would suggest the background and would not be missed if they stopped.

I am not sure that 'getting away with' being able to drink alcohol in the streets during this week is a good thing nor if this has much to do with the current festval organsers. It is more due to a logistical problem of having enough people to enforce it or the resulting chaos and disorder, if preventing it were tried.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: s&r
Date: 10 May 04 - 04:43 AM

Didn't a wet Sidmouth week virtually bankrupt EFDSS? My memory is that Steve Heap/John Haden took a huge chance and turned a festival which was a loss maker into a viable organisation.

Steve Heap has a business-like approach to festivals, and I hope makes a profit - that's where the next festival comes from. His organisational skills have resulted in the AFO (Association of Festival Organisers) to which most festivals belong. The annual conference has helped many festivals to understand the Law, Grant Aid, and similar, and has provided a voice for the Folk community with Government and the PRS.

Festivals are businesses whether we like it or not; we must comply with ever more complex laws, have contracts with Artists, Traders, Venues etc.

I hope Sidmouth continues (though it's not my choice); I think Steve Heap is attempting to demonstrate to councils et al that Folk Festivals bring valuable business into an area, with a high degree of retained income. Other areas of 'Arts' enjoy massive grants and subsidy. Let's hope this move results in realistic help from councils and the Government

Stu


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Dave of Mawkin
Date: 10 May 04 - 05:19 AM

Here here!
Steve Heap and co, have done a massive job in making folk events and organisations into well respected and economically viable products.
His given us the AFO (which is a fantastic resource for us festival organisers) and through Sidmouth was born Shooting Roots which does wonders for the evolution of the folk indsutry.

I think it'll be a damn shame if Sidmouth was lost, its the only festival where non folkies know about it,it beats the hell out of Cambridge and is a folk festival for all people.How about some Government intervention or why dont the audiences just buy some rain jackets!?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Schantieman
Date: 10 May 04 - 01:17 PM

I went to Sidmouth a few times between 1983 & 1989 when I stopped going coz it was getting too big. Interesting to see LtS above saying the same thing STARTING then! I dread to think what it's like now. Find out soon enuf - be there this year.

My ex-stepmother-in-law (work that one out!) went to the first one all those years ago and will be there this year. Bet she'll see a few changes!

Whatever the changes and however big it gets I wouldn't want it to disappear though.

Steve


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 May 04 - 02:03 PM

"...the current organisers...appear to be holding a gun to our heads."

Can't see that - they aren't appealing for festival goers to come up with the loot, but for the local traders to help ensure they continue make a fat profit off the festival goers, and for the local council to keep paying a modest amount to ensure that this money keeps rolling in.

There are lots of pleasant festivals in pleasant places a lot easier to get to than Sidmouth. We've been going every year since 1984 I think, but I doubt if we'd keep going to Sidmouth if the festival folded.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: *Laura*
Date: 10 May 04 - 02:13 PM

I love Sidmouth. I know there had been changes planned - but it would be terrible if it was the last.

Ohh.... sidmouth.....


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Compton
Date: 10 May 04 - 04:47 PM

Is £200.000 "a modest amount"??


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 10 May 04 - 05:04 PM

It is at today's prices where you can just about get a decent house for that money.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: treewind
Date: 10 May 04 - 05:31 PM

It probably won't be the last.
Threats like this have been made by everyone who has ever run it.
It's a wake-up call to the local businesses who benefit from it but don't support it.

At the same time, Steve Heap is always researching alternative locations, because he has to keep an eye on the options.

By the way a summary of the economics were posted on uk.music.folk by Derek Schofield. In a nutshell:
* The festival costs £0.75 million to run
* The ticket sales make £ 0.5 million
* The rest comes from arena ticket sales.

In 1997 it rained all week and the festival nearly sunk, keeping running on a huge bank loan for the next three years.
Then there was good weather and Rolf Harris's arena shows paid back the debt. That's what brought in the locals and the holidaymakers from other resorts along the coast in sufficient numbers.

It's a risky business. No other festival is so affected financially by the weather, as nearly all the income for other festivals comes from tickets sold in advance.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 May 04 - 05:41 PM

It's a modest amount, considering how much money comes into the town as a result of the festival. In addition it is pretty certain that there is also a spin-off during the rest of the season. People who come for the festival often recommend the town to friends and relatives who aren't so keen on folk music. That includes foreign tourists from all over.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 May 04 - 05:57 PM

Can't see that - they aren't appealing for festival goers to come up with the loot, but for the local traders to help ensure they continue make a fat profit off the festival goers, and for the local council to keep paying a modest amount to ensure that this money keeps rolling in.

It's a wake-up call to the local businesses who benefit from it but don't support it.

That may be the main intention but those who attend the festival are the people who care the most and are the people who are set worrying by the press release, and take part in discussions like this one. I don't expect the local businesses and councils are doing the same. I suspect also that the organisers rather expect that the festival attendees will put the pressure on, in order to keep it going in its current form, rather than risk losing it......


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 10 May 04 - 06:30 PM

As a matter of fact, East Devon Council have posted their position to the BBC Folk & Acoustic message board here.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 May 04 - 07:20 PM

Could you post a link to that post from East Devon Council? I couldn't find it in the mass of replies to the initial post.

(One thing visiting the BBC message board reminded me was how much better desighned and organised the Mudcat is than this BBC facility.)

The basic problem, I suppose, is that the way we organise local finance in this country means that, while massive takings from the festival go to the local traders in the town, the council doesn't get any significant amount of that money to pay for the subsidy. So they cut it and are a little bit better off - but the town loses out, as well as the festival goers.

As Shambles says, the implication of the press release is that people who value the festival could try and apply pressure to save it. Seems very fair to me. Any suggestions as to how best to do that?   Here is a link to the Sidmouth Herald with contact details. Maybe lots of letters from all over wouldn't hurt any (especially from America sounding like millionaire tourusts)


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 May 04 - 07:25 PM

I pushed the button too early - I was just going to remind anybody writing a letter to the paper, they've got a local council election in a few weeks, so voters down there who don't want to lose the festival have a possibility of leaning on the council.   (Mind there are probably a good few who would be delighted to see the back of us...)

Might be best to read that Council post on the BBC site that the countess mentiond first though.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 10 May 04 - 07:37 PM

Hello McGrath,

I tried to link just the post but the BBC board is such rubbish that it wouldn't work. Here's a cut/paste:


re: Sidmouth Festival may be the last - nick stephen 1st post - 10 May 2004 18:05
East Devon District Council puts the record straight

Councillor Andrew Moulding, East Devon's Portfolio-Holder for Leisure, said: "The council is somewhat taken aback at the timing, tone and content of the press release from Sidmouth International Festival and its parent company, Mrs Casey's Music.

"The council continues to be supportive of the festival, both in principle and in practice. The 2004 festival will be supported by East Devon to the tune of £60,780 in grant aid, not to mention other benefits that the festival receives without charge – such as cleansing and security services, use of council-owned land and premises etc.

"In recent years, the grant aid has been index-linked and has risen from £50,000 in 1996 to £59,010 in 2003 – with a further increase this year.

"The council recently commissioned an organisational development review of the festival's future, conducted by an independent consultant, which looked at how the festival might be structured and financed beyond 2004.

"The two main council decisions arising from the review, of which the festival organisers are well aware, were that: 1. The Council would enter into a limited agreement with Mrs Casey's Music for them to manage a festival in 2005 with ITS financial support comparable to that of previous years.

2. A working party should be set up to investigate the situation with regard to 2006 onwards, this to include representatives of all the major interested parties.

"So far as the council is concerned, all of its actions to date have been supportive of the festival's continuation beyond 2004. Any suggestion that the council has indicated that its financial support will soon come to an end is highly inaccurate and is strongly refuted.

"It may indeed be the case that the festival is seeking additional funding to secure its future, but this is a matter for the festival organisers and their potential patrons. In times of financial stringency, when local authorities are continually balancing provision of facilities and services with limited rises in council tax, it is the district council's duty to ensure that residents of East Devon receive best value.

"The District Council believes that the strategy it has adopted for supporting the festival and assisting the organisers to find a way forward beyond 2005 is fair to all concerned".  


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 04 - 08:31 PM

Sidmouth is the flagship of all british festivals and I'm sure if Mrs
Casey feels this way then it must surly be a wake up call to Devon council and all the Sidmouth traders who hike up their prices for Folk week but don't contribute to the hand that feeds


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: JennyO
Date: 10 May 04 - 09:56 PM

I'm in Australia. We have festivals of varying size here, most smaller than Sidmouth but a handful are bigger. I was on a tour with my choir in 2001, and we performed at Sidmouth.

One of the things that struck me at the time was how dependant on the weather this festival is. That year, the weather was very changeable, with sun one minute and downpours of rain the next. Every time it rained, everyone in the Arena area had to run for cover and activity ground to a halt. A part of the stalls area, which was under cover, was still in trouble after the rain stopped, because water ran in and the ground was flooded. The large outdoor stage seemed to be partly protected, but the audience area was completely in the open. Even the showers in the camping area had no roof.

In Oz, at the festivals I have been at, even the smallest of festivals, there have been many wet-weather contingencies in place, so that they will continue to function. We use indoor venues and marquees for all the concerts, and the worst that might happen is that you might decide to stay where you are for longer if a storm hits. Our festivals also tend to be much more compact, even quite big ones (The National in Canberra is a perfect example), and the camping is closer (with the exception of Woodford, which has a FREE shuttle bus). I must admit I came back with an increased respect for our own festival organisers.

I was really surprised that a festival as big as Sidmouth did not seem to take weather factors more seriously. Is it an English thing, to tempt the weather gods this way?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Villan
Date: 11 May 04 - 02:59 AM

Listening to Mick Peat on Folkwaves last night, who had an interview with the organiser.

It seems that the key issue is the underwriting of the festival if it is rained off. A considerable loss would be incurred.

Nobody seems to want to plough back any money to underwrite the loss that could occur.

So it would seem from that interview there isn't any other issue.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 11 May 04 - 03:26 AM

Well spotted Villan,

Read the press release and that is the main concern. Any one doing some checking will see that the insurance industry has changed and a major player in this field has also dissapeared.

Not unsurprisingly lots of folk have focussed on the Festival organisers.

Lets float an Idea, all interested parties subscribe to a trust fund with very strict rules on its use. 200K whilst seeming a large sum is actually not that large - a banked trust fund gaining interest and administered by a neutral board could guaranatee the festival! The find would then gain capital in interest too!

Perhaps other festivals could join such a body and remove the profiteering insurers from the equation the body could be a charity and thereby serve a wide range of festivals.

Just a thought - one has to be positive!

I have dragged many people to Sidmouth over the years folk and non folk alike - most of them became regulars or at least made further visits. It is always easier to debate and imagine the worst than contribute to a result! could we re align this thread and discuss options as you guys see them rather than berate the size the management and what used to be.

There are some good comments on the BBC site too. Blue clicky link above.

Hugs all round

A


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: AggieD
Date: 11 May 04 - 03:38 AM

It does seem to be a great shame that the main problem is underwriting the festival, but there you are, no-one not even insurance companies these days want to take that risk, they might not make mega-bucks out of the deal.

This is the trouble with modern commercialism, but short of going back to the days when everyone rolled around either without washing properly for a week, or polluting the swimming pool, or even paying 1/3d for a loaf of bread, then we expect more for our money these days.

I still think the price of a ticket is excellent value, when you compare to going to the theatre, sporting events, or even one-off non folkie concerts. Where else can I be entertained from morning 'till very late at night for around £20 quid a day? We folkies moan about the lack of coverage of our music, then can't take it when we are faced with the big bad world of commercialism that now follows any large scale event.

I do agree that the local traders etc who obviously get great benefit out of the festival should be leaned on to help sponsor/underwrite, but let's be honest they probably rely on the income during the festival to keep their businesses going throughout the year. I know just how hard it is for smaller businesses to survive the competion from large traders, & UK hoteliers are certainly not raking in huge amounts of dosh.

Perhaps those people who go along for the ride & never contribute a single penny to the income of the festival should think a little more carefully about saying that the festival would continue, & think of giving some sort of time to the more commercial events, this would certainly help in a small way, rather than just passing the buck, letting someone else organise & hope for the best.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Villan
Date: 11 May 04 - 10:27 AM

It strikes me that the event should be scaled down and run in a place(s) in Sidmouth where all the events are indoors, so that if it rains, the whole event is not saboutaged.

Sometimes people need to sit back and take stock of the situation.

Its hard to go backwards, but sometimes it is necessary just to keep such an historic event from closing completely.

It would be a shame to see Sidmouth die, so come on everybody think smaller and drier and I am sure it will still be a great event.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 May 04 - 10:30 AM

Faced with this situation, the 50th Sidmouth Festival will be the last one organised by the current management.

Whether you consider the current organisers to be saints or sinners - their PR has caused all this division, with folk blaming each other.

If we really need to blame anyone at the moment, blame them. If no one responds to the public blackmail and agrees to underwrites the festival, you can perhaps blame them. There is very little that folk who attend the festival can do, if the current organisers pull out.

Many folk who support the festival may not like being placed in the position of supporting the current organisers (whatever they decide to do or not do) for that is their choice.

But all this is a side issue, the important thing is to ensure that some form of Sidmouth Festival continues. One that hopefully is not subject to this now regular brinkmanship, which is now causing all this uncertainty, blame and bad feeling.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: breezy
Date: 11 May 04 - 10:33 AM

Why not plan the festival it as if it is going to rain ?
Then there would be no need to 'underwrite' it and if it doesnt rain ,then all well and good.
Plan for the worse then it can only get better.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

we play soccer in all weathers



Tonight the Ampthill Folk Club Tues 11th May


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 11 May 04 - 10:53 AM

Why not plan the festival as if it is going to rain? Then there would be no need to 'underwrite' it

Brilliant! I do believe Breezy's got it! A solution for all those unable to remember to put an umbrella in their bag.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 11 May 04 - 10:55 AM

Blame rarely serves a useful purpose.

A week festival must present a good and wide ranging programme!
And as for think small - I have always found if you tilt a something small then you end up with miniscule - think bigger and you begin to grow and get somewhere.

Financial stats appear on this and the BBC site - It really is a where to from here situation at present!

If a trust fund were set up with appropriate rules then I have a £100 cheque ready and waiting.

this could be the start of a festival insurance scheme which all festivals could join - being a charitable institution with no proifit to make it could drive down the cost of festival insurance and therefore tickets too - my what a good idea.

Any other good positive ideas out there? Teh easiest thing in the world is to criticise sometimes the hardest is to look up and face things full on an come up with a solution.

A


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: DG&D Dave
Date: 11 May 04 - 11:32 AM

Just to remind Sidmouth DG&D regulars:

This will be a Mega 'Doom, Gloom and Despondancy' competition this year with more judges and more bouncers. Unfortunately, there probably won't be more time for contestants. I'll See what I can do.

With regards to the subject of this thread; This will be my 25th Sidders and it would probably have been my last, not because I have anything against the way its being organised, just that I have a lot of other things I would like to do in August.

I will miss the festival (whether it's there or not) and I appreciate the effort that Steve and all of the people involved have put in to keep it going for so long.

Dave.

Hard times come again no more.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,MC Fat
Date: 11 May 04 - 11:57 AM

I've been to Sidmouth only once and while I enjoyed it in part most of the time I was there it didn't grab me and make me want to ensure it was an essential part of my festival year like a few of my very good friends do. I would if I had limitless amounts of spare dosh attend eg if I won the lottery. However I wouldn't want to see it go under. The thing I noticed when I was there is that the locals hate it (the Festival) and the letters in the local press are venomous in the extreme with ranting like 'why does the town have to put up with this each year !!' the assumption by some is that most of the money is spent on site and that the town does not benefit. I know that's false but that was the view.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 May 04 - 01:08 PM

If it comes to the festival and we know it's going to be the last, it'll all be one big Doom and Gloom workshop.

Most of the festival isn't too affected by rain, it's really just the Arena. They used to have a big marquee up at the Arena, and if it came on to rain too heavily, events could be rescheduled inside. That seemed a very sensible arrangement.

" the days when everyone rolled around either without washing properly for a week" - I don't think that's a serious problem. Washing facilities aren't difficult to organise. I camp at most fetsivals, though not at Sidmouth, and I can't say the campers look particularly unwashed, even when they are.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 May 04 - 02:17 PM

The thing I noticed when I was there is that the locals hate it (the Festival) and the letters in the local press are venomous in the extreme with ranting like 'why does the town have to put up with this each year !!

There was a piece just now on the local BBC South West news. Many locals were interviewed but none expressed anything but support (and support in the form of money from local business) for the event. There seemed much puzzlement as to why such a successful local event would even be under threat.

Festival organisers get it right and deserve our support when they manage to supply what their attendees want. Up to this point, because they largely have done this, support for the current organisers is understandable. They have stepped in and saved the event in the past, taken risks and I thank them for this and many other things.

However, it is less understandable to support the current organisers from this point onward, when it a fact that it is only they who are directly and publicly threatening the future of the festival, whatever or however justified their concerns may be.

The crucial word about any future trust fund, is the word trust. If they get want they want this time, are the current organisers to be trusted not to come up with some other threat in the future. If I were a local business or councillor I might be wary of giving in to this public demand, and be concerned about the form the next blackmail attempt may take.


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