We are a network of folk lovers whose aim is to help sustain and support a thriving "guest booking" folk club scene in the UK. The whole thing started with a blog post by John Richards on Damien Barber's website voicing his concerns that such clubs might die out with his generation, with a resulting loss of unique opportunities for folk lovers to hear new and established artists perform in an intimate setting. While the "top end" of the folk scene - festivals and large venues such as the biggest arts centres and theatres - is thriving with the resurgence of interest in folk, the "roots base" of the folk club gig circuit appears not to be sharing in that resurgence equally, with audiences dwindling for many, and several clubs closing in recent years. You can see John's full post here:
John's call found an enthusiastic response from across the whole spectrum of the folk scene and so folk21 was born. The group is open to anyone - organisers, would-be organisers, artists, agents and fans - to discuss the issues facing folk clubs, exchange ideas, tips and advice, and help build a thriving network for the future. We have a core focus/action group of volunteers, chaired by Pete Coe, who work to make the various initiatives happen.
Our first two initiatives to date have been:
a) Carrying out an Audience Survey at UK Festivals and online, to find out what people really think about folk clubs, and what might encourage more of them to cross the threshold. The results of the survey can be found here:
b) Producing a Best Practice Guide to help increase folk club audience numbers. Compiled by five Network members, the Guide reflects the audience feedback from the survey, with suggestions and ideas for building your club or venue audience. This is now open for comments and suggestions from the whole group. It is only the first edition and we welcome contributions of amendments and additions. The Guide can be seen here:
Our next, and biggest, initiative will be the organisation of Regional Days for organisers within a given geography, as an opportunity to meet and discuss best practice, share ideas and identify opportunities for collaboration. The agenda for such events will include items on joint advertising & promotion, combining mail lists, cross-promotion, cost sharing, relevant legislation, presenting a common front towards local government, alternative venues, house concerts, co-ordination of bookings to avoid clashes or take advantage of opportunities etc. Many of those Regional Days will be accompanied by Showcase Concerts enabling you to see new and developing artists from other regions alongside a main headline act.
The first of these will be the Yorkshire Regional Day, organised by Pete Coe and Jacey Bedford. Here is Jacey's invitation for the Yorkshire Regional Day:
"Yorkshire Regional Folk Networking Day
You are receiving this because you care about folk music. Are you
troubled by the diminishing folk club scene? Forty years ago there were
thousands of folk clubs in the North of England alone. Now we estimate
there are fewer than 300 in the whole country which regularly book guest
Folk21 is organising a
Yorkshire Regional Folk Networking Day
And Evening Showcase Concert featuring Heretique and others to be announced. MC Pete Coe
Saturday 31st March
At The Music Room, Cleckheaton, BD19 3RR
Afternoon Networking begins at 2 p.m.
• Raising folk's profile regionally
• What makes a club a club? Share your good ideas with the panel •
Working with artists and agents • And this time - chiefly - YOURSELVES. Networking
Contact Jacey Bedford by email or on 01484 606230 for more info or to
book your free place
FOR ARTISTS WISHING TO TAKE PART IN THE SHOWCASE:
We're organising the first Folk21 regional day in Yorkshire on 31st March at the Music Room in Cleckheaton. This is an experiment (the first one always is) and deadlines are tight as we have to go to press with local advertising next week. If any established folk club performers wish to take part in the showcase concert in front of the club organiser/delegates please email Pete Coe (email@example.com). Please note that participating performers must already be playing on the folk club circuit (either established or up-and-coming newcomers). They should also be from outside the Yorkshire area, and not playing Yorkshire on a regular basis, but wishing to expand into that area. If Pete doesn't know you personally please include links to your website and youtube or audio clips. If you are a relative newcomer please list your last six gigs (including dates). We hope there will be other showcase opportunities in other regions as more regional days are arranged.