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Practicalities of a small 'festival'?

buddhuu 04 May 10 - 05:18 AM
Leadfingers 04 May 10 - 05:31 AM
Fidjit 04 May 10 - 05:55 AM
GUEST,Pigstrings 04 May 10 - 06:00 AM
buddhuu 04 May 10 - 09:34 AM
Richard Bridge 04 May 10 - 09:47 AM
Suffet 04 May 10 - 01:51 PM
Dave the Gnome 04 May 10 - 02:41 PM
Northerner 04 May 10 - 02:48 PM
The Barden of England 04 May 10 - 03:55 PM
Leadfingers 04 May 10 - 04:50 PM
buddhuu 05 May 10 - 04:40 AM
Hamish 05 May 10 - 04:59 AM
Dave the Gnome 05 May 10 - 05:09 AM
buddhuu 05 May 10 - 08:10 AM
Howard Jones 05 May 10 - 02:36 PM
buddhuu 06 May 10 - 04:24 AM
buddhuu 06 May 10 - 04:34 AM
GUEST,MC Fat (at work) 06 May 10 - 06:20 AM
buddhuu 06 May 10 - 08:15 AM
Leadfingers 06 May 10 - 09:15 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 May 10 - 09:24 AM
buddhuu 06 May 10 - 10:32 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 May 10 - 10:41 AM
GUEST,leeneia 06 May 10 - 11:01 AM
Leadfingers 07 May 10 - 06:29 AM
Leadfingers 07 May 10 - 08:40 PM
The Fooles Troupe 07 May 10 - 09:24 PM
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Subject: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: buddhuu
Date: 04 May 10 - 05:18 AM

I host a small song/tune session at a tiny country pub in North Hertfordshire.

This weekend I ran an idea past the management about organising a folk "festival" at the pub - maybe next summer.

The pub, The Plough in Ley Green, near Hitchin, has experience of hosting music events. There is an annual charity rock festival there known as Ploughstock. A 1-day event with a number of bands across 2 stages: a trailer stage and a new permanent, paved performance area. The pub itself is small, but the garden is very large.

It seems to me that a folk event, with more a modest PA than the rock festival could work very nicely. As it would be a quieter event than Ploughstock I'm hoping local residents will embrace the idea if we go ahead with it.

Does anyone know who might be a good source of advice on getting this off the ground? I have had involvement with Ploughstock, and my mates organise that, but input from someone with specific experience of folk events would be most welcome.


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 04 May 10 - 05:31 AM

PM sent


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Fidjit
Date: 04 May 10 - 05:55 AM

Have a chat with Tony Philips resident at the "Half Moon" Bishop's Stortford. He runs the stortford music festival Just last weekend.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: GUEST,Pigstrings
Date: 04 May 10 - 06:00 AM

We've been running the Pigs Ear Kentish Horse folk ale at a local pub since 2003. It's grown organically - but is still a small, friendly, intimate festival; and our challenge now is to keep it that way!

Some thoughts that might help:

1. Cultivate your landlord/landlady. Get the pub is 100% behind the event; make sure they'll make money out of it, but also get them to put some money in. Listen to any concerns they have and work with them to address those concerns.
2. Start small - perhaps with aone-day event.
3. The first couple of years, we did not commit anything in guest fees. Everyone taking part did it for the craic; and we paid them what we could afford. This kind of set the tone - it's very much an inclusive festival with lots of open mic and session, with a few quality headline acts (mainly because they're people I want to see!) We keep ticket prices as low as possible - but our aim is only to break even and have enough funds to run next year's folk ale.
4. If the event runs over more than 1 day you will need camping close by.
5. Turn the PA off before midnight.
6. You need a good support team - stewarding, sound desk, MC/host. A little good organisation in advance makes for a happy and relaxed festival on the ground.
7. Oh yes - order the weather!!!

If you want to have a chat about our experiences email us - pigsear@mac.com


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: buddhuu
Date: 04 May 10 - 09:34 AM

Thanks for all replies and PMs guys. :-) I'll follow up your suggestions about contacts.

Assuming we proceed, the event will be a 1-dayer.

The landlord and landlady are close friends and music fans. They are up for it. They know what an all-day music event involves from several years of Ploughstock.

I have in mind a charity event (again, like our annual Ploughstock rock festival). At Ploughstock the bands donate their time and talent. I'd hope I could find an adequate number of folk musicians who will do the same.

I have in mind an event on a smaller scale than Ploughstock, and at lower volume. One main stage and perhaps one or two unplugged areas where people could perform or jam between acts.

I was thinking of keeping things as "acoustic" as possible maybe discouraging full drum kits and backline amplification, having just PA if possible. One thing I learnt from Ploughstock is how much time is eaten by the lugging of drums and amps...


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 May 10 - 09:47 AM

Neighbours, neighbours, neighbours.

Badlesmere ran successfully for a number of years until a townie bought a nearby house and bitched until the festival was shut down. So get your PR in first, and make sure the PA is kept really really low.

Probably good to put acoustic session in a bar away from sound-checks - but it does depend on whether the local drinkers are educable not to be bellowing and not to demand "The Wild Rover" every ten minutes.


Bogs bogs bogs! Get twice as many bogs as you need and make sure they are cleaned every hour. I mean it folks. And make it a rule that parents supervise bogs after children under 10 have used them. At least one folk mini-festival has had a problem with having bogs but no bogrolls because infant mafiosi thought (if that's the word) it funny to put all the bogrolls down the bogs.

NO ball games near parked vehicles. I've seen several vehicles dented in camping areas when moronic "adults" encouraged infant mafiosi to kick foolsballs (sic) at parked cars.


If the camping is on a slope, have a 4x4 or tractor on hand in case it rains.


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Suffet
Date: 04 May 10 - 01:51 PM

I have been involved in organizing several small festivals and festival-like event. However, my experience is in the USA, where alcohol is not such an integral part of the folk culture. Nevertheless, some of these ideas may prove helpful.

• Consider holding your festival in a school, and then allow members of the school community (faculty, staff, students, parents) attend at a reduced cost or even for free. I have found schools that charge little or nothing for use of their facilities in return for such concessions.

• Schedule at least one free concert for families with children, and book performers who know how to work with young audiences. Consider making the entire festival free for children.

• Program a variety of events, including concerts, presentations, teaching workshops, sing-arounds, and jams. If appropriate space is available, include some dance events.

• Book some young performers, particularly if they are from the school or neighborhood.

• Be open and welcoming to local ethnic immigrant communities, and book performers from those communities who are able to share their traditional music.

• Establish some rituals. For example, have an opening ceremony, a closing ceremony, and somewhere in the middle take time to present an award (certificate or plaque) to someone you would like to honor.

• Invite folk radio program hosts to attend for free. Even better, ask one or more to serve as a MC. And be sure to let them have some free tickets they can give away to their listeners. In return they will give your festival plenty of free publicity.

Best of luck.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 May 10 - 02:41 PM

We went from a festival utilising a couple of pubs and a large civic hall to just the one pub when the civic hall closed down. Best thing that could have happened. PM me if you want specifics but we have a Friday 'club', usualy either a singaround or a local guest. Saturday is an all day singaround and music session come all ye in the bar - goes down great with the pub regulars. And when I say all day it os noon till silly sometimes. We luckily have a couple of seperate rooms where we can have a 'quieter' sing and an intimate concert with quite a big name (Roy Bailey for instance) later on. Sunday is hangover workshop with songs and music:-)

Go for it and good luck!

DeG


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Northerner
Date: 04 May 10 - 02:48 PM

Don't forget to use face painters, storytellers, Punch abd Judy Man etc for the children. Even having a table loaded with colouring sheets and pencils is better then nothing.
And don't forget local poets either...


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: The Barden of England
Date: 04 May 10 - 03:55 PM

What GUEST-Pigstrings said. They have run a very friendly festival that now runs from Thursday eveing until Sunday evening. My words of advice, Be Inclusive, and get local people involved.
John Barden


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 04 May 10 - 04:50 PM

Dont be TOO ambitious too soon !!!


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: buddhuu
Date: 05 May 10 - 04:40 AM

Thanks all for the input so far. :-) Many excellent points raised.

The venue will be just the pub and garden. There's not much choice as the village is so small that it literally has nothing but a small shop and a pub! No schools, nothing.

If we follow the 'Ploughstock' precedent then there will be no charge for entry. If we eventually do decide to sell tickets it will be solely as a way to control the number of people.

One of the concerns every year at Ploughstock is striking a balance with the publicity so we get a good attendance, but don't get absolutely mobbed by more punters than we can safely and responsibly manage. That is one of my biggest concerns at this point.

As it will be a charity event, profit is not the object. The pub would, no doubt, benefit from increased sales, but as they provide the venue, and these events involve a LOT of work for them, I think that's fair enough. The pub is a frequent benefactor to local charities.

I take the point about providing something for kids. We do want the event to be family friendly. It is a family-friendly pub and children are generally welcome, so that all fits.

Similarly, Suffet's suggestion regarding local immigrant communities strikes a chord with me. We have a sizeable Punjabi Sikh community in nearby Hitchin, and I'm a bit of a bhangra fan. I might make enquiries in that direction! :-)


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Hamish
Date: 05 May 10 - 04:59 AM

Invite a couple of morris teams. Ask them to dance a few shortish sets over a longish elpased time. That way you've got two or three dozen folkies to form a core - and to keep the bar ticking over nicely. They'll want their first drink on the house, but will more than cover the investment and make for a happy landlord too!


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 05 May 10 - 05:09 AM

Don't forget to use face painters, storytellers, Punch abd Judy Man etc for the children.

I would not bother. For the first few anyway. Far too much time taken with it and not enough benefit I'm afraid. You have to pay the entertainers, Make sure they, or someone responsible for the kids, is CRB checked etc. Then you get no return for it. Parents dump their kids and don't pick then up at the required time and heaven help you if little Johnny should complain to his Dad that he didn't enjoy it:-(

One of the benefits of moving to a smaller venue was that we didn't have to provide any of this. Big festivals - Yes, OK. Kids need something to do if you are away for a week or even weekend. If parents can't either look after their own kids or get them farmed out for a day though, then we are in a sad state.

Just my opinion of course. (And therefore the correct one :-) )

DeG


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: buddhuu
Date: 05 May 10 - 08:10 AM

@ Hamish: Definitely on the morris. We have a couple of sides locally, at least one of which drops by the pub at least once a year.

@ David: We'd expect parents to supervise the kids, but I think a bit of face-painting or something might help to keep them from going nuts.

Aw, Jaysus... I'd forgotten about all that CRB bollox. That really limits what can be done for the kids anyway. No way am I getting dragged into that palaver. The parents will definitely be responsible for the kids at all times.


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 May 10 - 02:36 PM

No one's mentioned the Licensing Act yet. The pub's licence may not extend to an event of this nature so you may need a temporary events licence.

You'll also need to consider health and safety (do a risk assessment), also disabled access. Make sure its understood what areas are the pub's responsibility and what are the festival's - it's easy to assume someone else is dealing with a particular issue. Get the Red Cross or St John's Ambulance to supply first aiders.

Make sure there's reserved parking for artists, and access so they can bring their vehicles as close as possible to the stage, for loading and unloading gear. They'll also want to know their valuable gear will be safe, so make sure there's always someone in attendance between the soundchecks and the performance.


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: buddhuu
Date: 06 May 10 - 04:24 AM

All good points, Howard, thanks.

Fortunately, we have experience of the licensing and safety issues from Ploughstock. Parking is usually pretty well organised too.


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: buddhuu
Date: 06 May 10 - 04:34 AM

Regarding the performer line-up

I've not been to an actual folk festival for quite a few years. The last couple I went to were pretty diverse and included acts from outside what I would consider the core of the genre. In fact, with some of the loud and jazzy stuff I remember, they were more like slightly toned-down rock festivals.

I'd like to keep things more simple and acoustic (although amplified, if you know what I mean), rather than have electric guitars, huge drum kits, effects racks, synths etc.

The reasons are partly personal preference for the kind of event I'd like to put on, and partly the hope that simplicity will help it to run smoothly - bearing in mind that anything that can go wrong will do so.

Is there still a good audience for a more traditional, low-tech, luddite kind of a line-up? Or does everyone expect 'electric' bands?


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: GUEST,MC Fat (at work)
Date: 06 May 10 - 06:20 AM

One thing that is relatively easy to do is a programme. You can charge a few bob for adverts e.g. The Pub, Local Breweries, Interested Businesses, Bus Company etc. These days anyone with a bit of computer knowledge can mock that up. A bit of writing about your guests and programme even a few piccies. Print it up and either give it free or for a small fee.


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: buddhuu
Date: 06 May 10 - 08:15 AM

Cheers. Added to list of stuff to consider. :-)


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 06 May 10 - 09:15 AM

It may well be beneficial to check any SMALL festials you can get to , contact the organisers and have a natter about ideas !


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 May 10 - 09:24 AM

You're more than welcome to study ours in October :)


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: buddhuu
Date: 06 May 10 - 10:32 AM

Where is yours, David?


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 May 10 - 10:41 AM

Swinton, Manchester. Bit of a trek but from Hertfordshire but if you are close enough to the M1 you could be there in 2.5 hours. If the M1 and M6 are not screwed... :-)

Link to our website - http://www.swintonfolkclub.co.uk/index.html

Festival is usualy 3rd/4th weekend in October. Not sure when it is or who is on this year yet!

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 May 10 - 11:01 AM

Hello, budhuu. Best of luck with your efforts.

I suggest you not use the word 'festival.' When I hear it, I expect something which lasts at least 2-3 days and has more than one part - for example, main acts plus sessions.   

We need a word that means 'one afternoon and evening of music.'


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 07 May 10 - 06:29 AM

In UK we have a number of One Day Festivals leeneia


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 07 May 10 - 08:40 PM

And for a Small Event , I would be happier with 'Proper' Folky stuff , NOT Electric Neo Rock or R&B ! LOL !
Though I DID meet some lads down in Sidders who did a nice mix of Trad Irish and Early R&B - Called themselves 'Bo Diddly Diddly' !


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Subject: RE: Practicalities of a small 'festival'?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 07 May 10 - 09:24 PM

"I'd like to keep things more simple and acoustic (although amplified, if you know what I mean), rather than have electric guitars, huge drum kits, effects racks, synths etc."

KISS - if you have ANY 'amplification' - it always gets out of hand - louder and louder. My preference is that if the singers can't be heard unamplified, then either they can't sing :-P or everything ELSE is just too loud, or the area is far too big 'for a small festival' :-)

You CAN allow 'battery amps' so some people can play their 'busking setups' :-) No gear to worry about then... :o)


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