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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST, Tom Bliss Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs (24) RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs 26 May 11

"do some of these people have an agenda, i suspect they do, bcause they do not criticise folk festivals in the same way,Dick Miles"

Fairly possibly Dick, you are just trying to get a good old ding-dong going, but just in case you really do want answers...

As one of the people who could be misunderstood to be trying to 'tell folk club organisers what they should be doing and how they should do it' I will do my best to enlighten you.

My Club Tips were a direct result of conversations late into the night with club organisers who were facing dwindling numbers, or who had taken over a dwindling club, or who were tearing their hair out in one way of another, to whom I frequently found myself saying '"well in Such and Such Club, they do this...." These conversations also took place on the Folk Club Organisers forum, of which I was founder/moderator (and maybe it is going on still, I'm not a member any more).

The idea emerged that some practices tended - in general - to work better than others, but much more importantly, it emerged that some organisers had never even thought about many of the tricks and techniques that their colleagues elsewhere were up to. Some were in fact doing the sorts of negative things that Alan Day refers to, yet had no idea that they were actually driving people away.

On the whole, festivals tend to be run by people who really wanted to run a festival. Clubs are sometimes run by people who didn't really want to, but have kindly taken over the reins to keep the club going, without much (any?) training from their predecessors. This does happen at festivals, but it's not so common.

Hence the idea of a 'best practice' list or perhaps more accurately a 'list of practices and some of their consequences as observed by artists, organisers and participants across the whole of the UK' list.

Was there an agenda? Yes. 1) The survival/thrivation of as many clubs/small-acoustic-venues as possible, 2) The potential strengthening of the political clout of the movement through collaboration (I called for a Folk Club Association, and I'm delighted that moves towards one seem to be progressing) towards engaging with government, PRS and others on the major issues currently affecting the folk scene.

Why did I not make an equivalent for Festivals? Because there already was the excellent Association of Festival Organisers, with their own forum, conference and (very successful) agenda.

You are wrong, however, to suggest that festivals are not criticised.

There is plenty of debate about festivals on this and other forums, and I have been knows to 'reflect back' my experiences to festivals teams in the office. Many artists don't care to, but I know from my work as a business consultant that organisations do need and often want to know when things are going wrong.

It is much harder to have those conversations with a club organiser after a club gig, as it was only your performance that night (and your name that did, or didn't, draw a crowd), and you are probably a guest in their house.

I'm sure festivals get lots of feedback, positive and negative from visitors - there's a lot of money changing hands and people will react as they would to an hotel or theme park management.

Club audience feedback is very different. Most just vote with their feet, and the team never find out why.


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