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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
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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
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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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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 May 04 - 08:17 PM

A trust fund would be admninistered by trustees, who would by definition be unable to benefit financially.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Villan
Date: 12 May 04 - 01:47 AM

Shambles
Why don't you try doing it and putting your money into it.

Strikes me there are a lot of whingers, who if things don't go the way they want, get on the band wagon. It's easy to moan, but it's not so easy to find people from these moaners who will get off there backsides and do it.

I think all the people who have kept the Sidmouth Festival going all these years deserve a big pat on the back. I doubt if anybody can ever repay them for the time, effort they have put into it and the pleasure that so many people have got from it.

The only issue here is where does the money come from to underwrite a WEATHER DISASTER. The organisers should not receive this money. It should be in a trust that will only pay out on proof of the loss caused by bad weather.

To some extent getting an acceptable amount of money to cover such a loss, would be a one off for next year. From then on, there should be a set amount of money from each future succesful year put into that trust, to make sure nothing like this happens again. I beleive it is called prudent accounting.

It should not be managed by anybody to do with the festival.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 May 04 - 02:00 AM

The nature of a private company is that it takes and faces risks. If you can reduce the risks directly presented to your company, it is good for your company. Taking everyone publicly with you to to the very brink, is perhaps a little more questionable for the good of your company - if you wish to be trusted in the future

Looking at it from the view of attendees, local business and the council - how could they ever be sure that this current threat and demand, will not be repeated, if the underwriting issue is solved?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Villan
Date: 12 May 04 - 02:31 AM

In my humble opinion, by keeping the money in a trust that is nothing to do with the private company. It must be totally isolated from the vent as such.

It should be legally set up, to only allow payout,if true evidence can be provided by the private organisers, that they have indeed suffered a very heavy loss caused purely through the weather.

Money should only be paid out for actual losses sustained i.e. Fixed Costs that must be met, not the profits that they might have expected if the event had been succesful.

I am sure this sort of trust would benefit most people in Sidmouth, who make a living from the spin off of such an event. Likewise these people would know that their money is safe and cannot just be creamed off by the organisers.

Quote
Looking at it from the view of attendees, local business and the council - how could they ever be sure that this current threat and demand, will not be repeated, if the underwriting issue is solved?
End of quote

You have to give it a try, after all you are calling their bluff. The money would be safe and they would never be allowed to touch it.

If their real intention is to stop the event anyway, there is nothing that anybody can do about that. But surely the flame will have been taken out of the fire, by an external trust, and they won't be able to argue that same point in the future.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 May 04 - 03:06 AM

Can I make it clear that when I talk of trust here, there is no suggestion on my part that the current organisers are trying, or would wish to touch any money that is not theirs.

It is clear that having no reason to doubt this - up to this point - many people (including me) do trust the current organisers to do the right thing for the good of the currently organised festival. What happens from this point oneward, will show whether that current trust is now misplaced.

It is clear from the Council's response to the PR that they were less than pleased at the position they were being placed in.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 12 May 04 - 03:39 AM

I'm a bear of very little brain... I could never understand why the Arena events are outdoors - yes, it's lovely in the sun, but hey, this is Britain! Why can't the area be covered by a marquee? And don't say there isn't one big enough - have you seen the ones they use at rock concerts, Parties in the Parks, and other festivals (Dranouter, in Belgium, has a concert marquee that would cover the Arena AND the craft market and still have room to spare for the kids events)?

Insurance - ALL insurance policies have exploded in the last 2-3 years, regardless of what you are insuring, it's not a great deal to do with Al Q'eeda, but more to do with the litigious society we are now entering into. When you can sue a "restaurant" for selling you a cup of hot coffee and not telling you it was hot, or that it would be stupid to put it between your legs whilst driving, then what do you expect?

And as for the locals - having lived in seaside/tourist towns and heritage villages, I've discovered something - the people who complain most about 'tourists' and events messing up their town, are usually the people who retired there after a lifetime of being those very tourists!

I hope the festival does continue, not least because it's usually the first festival most people see, but because it's also been the springboard for many performers and other festivals. But we have to be realistic - all you whingers here, would you be prepared to take it over?

LTS


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:11 AM

Nice on Liz

I think perhaps it has been spotted now - the Festival 'customer' is not being held to ransome here but some political force - council business who by the sound of the press release have not put their money where their mouths currently are!

I got drunk (as you do at Sidmouth) with the manager of a well known hostelry one year who was adamant that 50% of his income / trade was taken over the festival week!

We now have tweo proposals on the table Liz's BIIGGG Tent ( I think the Areana holds over 3000 paying customers when full) and the Trust fund - any more - there are probably pros and cons to each. I can forward these to Mrs Casey if folk wish and see what their - Official or unofficial response might be - or even no repsonse.

Any more proposals?

Andy


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Villan
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:12 AM

"But we have to be realistic - all you whingers here, would you be prepared to take it over?"

Nice one LTS


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: English Jon
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:30 AM

Sidmouth has 3 problems.

It's in the wrong place. It's a pain in the neck for most people to get to.

The weather is horrible. Every year. Move it somewhere warmer.

The campsite is bollocks. Who really wants to sleep at a 45 degree angle?

Broadstairs, which is a week later is always warm and sunny - still a pain to get to, but a damn sight nearer london than sidmouth. The campsite is flat. Broadstairs is getting bigger every year.

Don't mistake me, I love sidmouth festival to bits - but the place is rubbish. Oh yes, you can't park anywhere for love or money. At broadstairs, everywhere is walking distance from the campsite.

I really do think that a change of location could solve a lot of problems for sidmouth. There must be other festivals that run for a week and make a profit? Anyone know any figures for whitby?

Profit is important - Steve has to make a living - so do the artists that support festivals (and festivals support)

Cheers,

Jon Loomes


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,MC Fat
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:33 AM

I did stress that I thought the comments of the locals were false and I also know they are not representative and I agree with Liz that they are mostly of the retired brigade. I for one spent most of my dosh in the hostelries and eateries in town when I was there.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Beardy
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:59 AM

..and on Fat Bastard shirts!!


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,MC Fat
Date: 12 May 04 - 05:02 AM

Very true Stu I did purchase the Fat Bloke T Shirt there.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 12 May 04 - 05:06 AM

English Jon -

It is a pain in the neck to get to, but then so are most seaside towns in Britain, leastways, the ones that have retained their character and charm and not been swallowed up by a sprawling metropolis with funfairs, stinky arcades and night clubs. Whitby, if memory serves me right, is even hillier and more inconvenient to get to. I've never had trouble parking at Sidmouth, if I was prepared to pay my way (never more than £5) or walk more than 500 yards, considerably better odds and prices than London.

The campsite is at a strange angle, but that all depends on which way you pitch your tent. Personally, I found it drained the rainwater off nicely, prevented my feet swelling and stopped my friend snoring, which he does, loudly. There are worse places to pitch - some flat fields I've camped in were full of cow poo and thistles. If you are camping, you need to expect some privations, that's half the fun!

The world does not revolve around London. People can travel across country without touching London. People live in other towns than London. Why should being 'a damn sight nearer london' be a major factor in a festival. Whitby is even farther from London than Sidmouth. I don't want to get into a slanging match about the merits of living in London (I've been here 14 years and not found one yet), but you have to realise, that not all people who go to Sidmouth, come from London.


And as for the weather - to get any warmer you'd have to go up to Scotland for the Gulf Stream, or down to the Scilly Isles. There are very few places farther south than Sidmouth (Portland and the Lizzard spring to mind) and they are even more inaccessible.

One day, the good folk of Broadstairs and Whitby will turn around and say, 'we don't want this festival invading our lovely town every year, it's always raining and they park all over the place' - where will the festivals go then?

LTS


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Dan Abnormal
Date: 12 May 04 - 05:26 AM

Yes, there is a festival that is on as big a scale as Sidmouth, has sufficiant underwriting, has all the venues closer together etc. - its called Cambridge. The appeal of Sidmouth for many people is that it isn't like that and thats the point.

Being less flippant, Winnipeg folk festival in Canada is my idea of what sidmouth could be like if some of its problems were sorted out. The main arena fits ten thousand (yes, ten thousand people...) who turn out to see the headlining acts, running from James Taylor type crowd pullers to Oysterband who headlined a few years back. However, they also have 'In the tradition' type concerts and sessions, Songwriters circle events, and folk club-like venues. Everythings close together and they have more than enough camping space and parking.

Just a thought.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 May 04 - 05:40 AM

"But we have to be realistic - all you whingers here, would you be prepared to take it over?"

Perhaps it is not helpful or necessary to lump unspecified people together and call them names, just because you may not share their views? As this scatter-gun approach will only futher divide us all at this difficult time and only prove counter-productive.

To be realistic, if there is any whinging going on, it was started and contained in the Press Release that has caused all this augument........This was the rather sad and negative starting point, perhaps we can be more positive from this point onward?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Hrothgar
Date: 12 May 04 - 05:45 AM

Never been to Sidmouth, much to my regret, but I can't resist making a couple of questions.

If you're running an event in England, isn't the probability of rain (not just the possibility) built into every damn thing?

Why does Sidmouth Folk Festival (which I understand is on the coast) have an address in Derbyshire (which I am well aware is not on the coast)? The distance might not be much to an Australian, but isn't it significant over there?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 12 May 04 - 05:49 AM

Crack on Shambles I often disagree with you but in this case I am 50% with you.

I think the original press release was a good one.

I think positive ideas are also good.

I could tak eissue with many of the statements in this thread but they are not relevant. Discuss yes, Ideas yes, whinging NO No No!

Andy


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 04 - 06:18 AM

Even if covering the Arena with some kind of temporary Millennium Dome may be possible, I think it'd be a real loss. Rain that's serious enough to make it impractical to use is pretty rare - 1997, when the whole week was almost drowned, was unusual enough to have gone down in folk memory.   I'm surprised that insuring against something as unusual as that is all that expensive.

What comes across to me from the press release is that the present organisers have got to the point where they want to pass the massive job off on to some other people, or at least pass off a major part of the responsibility and pressure. I don't blame them, and I hope they succeed, and that we get a continuing Sidmouth.

As for Sidmouth's supposed inaccessibility and parking problems, there's a good train service to Honiton, and a good bus service from there to Sidmouth, and taking a car to Sidmouth and expecting to drive around, leaving aside special circumstances, is a bit daft - for one thing, it messes up the drinking.

Broadstairs - I'd love to get there some time, but the fact that it's always scheduled to follow directly on Sidmouth has always stopped me, even though it's a lot closer. I'm too folked out to do straight on, and I know a lot of other people are as well.

Given the international side of Sidmouth, especially the way it's always brought dancers and musicians from the Eastern end of Europe, I wonder whether the organisers have tried to get financial backing from some European Union fund? I think the fact that Sidmouth has this firmly international side is important, and is a valuable balance to the way that most of our folk festivals are - innocently enough - much more geared to the traditions (and fashions) of the local nation or region.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Colin Cotter
Date: 12 May 04 - 06:36 AM

Sidmouth Festival would be a darn sight more pleasant if they just banned driving out of the campsite altogether (except obviously for special cases like wheelchair users etc). The bus is very good and reasonably priced, and the walk isn't that far (and much of the traffic on the bit of road with no path is people coming down from the campsite anyway). All those cars just churn up the campsite and turn it into a quagmire. You're in the country, what's the runs - get out and stretch your legs for a bit, you never know it might do you some good.

-cjc


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 04 - 06:37 AM

What's the runs?

I mean "What's the rush".

-cjc


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 12 May 04 - 06:52 AM

The Sidmouth campsite is for season ticket holders only and the season ticket serves as a free bus pass for the festival service. So there is no excuse whatsoever for using a vehicle around the town. Please don't argue "trips to Waitrose" because you could do that on the way in.

Why couldn't it be made a condition of campsite use that vehicles remain impounded, other than for emergency use, for the duration of the festival? Apart from making environmental sense, it might foster better relations with the indigenous population.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: DG&D Dave
Date: 12 May 04 - 07:00 AM

Hrothgar,
I agree with what you say about rain. Whilst I applaud Steve Heaps efforts in keeping the festival going, he did have about 5 years of superb weather prior to to wettest year ever (1997?). I would have hoped that financial losses due to bad weather can be ballanced with profits from the good years.

The address is in Derbyshire because steve moved there from Buckinghamshire (which is also a long way from Sidders) about 2 years ago. Steve organises events throughout the UK and Derbyshire is about as central as you can get. The festival office does move to Sidmouth the week before the festival.

Dave.

As I was going to Derby all on a market day.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: s&r
Date: 12 May 04 - 07:14 AM

Even if you roofed the Arena, wet weather would still be a disincentive to the many people who travel in to see Arena Events. Not many day visitors paying on the door would be inspired by the prospect of sitting in a tent while the rain beat down outside.

Most Festivals don't run at a profit - they make enough to cover costs (possibly with a subsidy or grant)and rely on unpaid enthusiasts for their planning and organisation. Festivals may be private limited companies as a sensible protection for the organising committee (Limited Liability)

Stu


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 12 May 04 - 07:34 AM

OK I like the camp site traffic ban Idea but I don't think it would work.

You recall last year I banned traffic movement in the wet, at the start of the week, some still got upset.

The bus pass is separate to the season ticket unless, you are stewarding, but is good value for money and the busses are very frequent. You don't need a car in Sidmouth even with small children in tow.

A
X


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: JennyO
Date: 12 May 04 - 07:40 AM

the season ticket serves as a free bus pass for the festival service

Funny, nobody told us about a bus pass when we were there in 2001. We had to pay 60p every time we got on a shuttle bus. Has that changed now?

That was one of the things that annoyed me. You couldn't really choose to walk back to the campsite at night either, because if you did, you would be taking your life in your hands walking along the narrow road with nowhere to get off it as cars came sweeping round the blind bends.

Jenny


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 12 May 04 - 07:56 AM

No, Jenny. Seems I got it wrong (see Andy's explanation above). It only applies if you have a steward's badge apparently (not that many of the bus drivers recognise even that!). Even then, it only applies to the shuttle. An all-over-town bus pass (extending to Sidford and Salcombe) would be a good thing.

And I wholly agree with how dangerous those roads where the path runs out are at night.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 04 - 08:21 AM

If you wear something light and walk on the side facing the traffic, walking to the campsite is OK. At least I've never found a particular problem. Still, I'd love to see a ban on all but essential traffic on the road up to the camp after dark during the festival, and a glance at the map suggests it wouldn't be that hard. But that'd need the council's backing, and I'm not sure if there's a legal procedure which would allow it anyway.

Restricting cars from leaving the campsite would be possible, and would be a good idea. One way to do it, which is the practice in some places, would be that, though once you were in there would be no further charge for the car, you'd have to pay few pounds every time you drove in, after the first time which would be covered by the season ticket. But it's rather like smoking - even if most people might prefer a ban, the people who are married to the habit would kick up an enormous fuss.

However, while these suggestions about how to prove the campsite etc are useful enough in themselves, they are a bit beside the point. They need to be directed to the people planning Sidmouth.

..............................

The problem isn't really that there aren't enough people going to the festival, but rather that, taking everything into account, including insurance or underwriting, the income from festival goers isn't quite enough to cover the full costs. The amount we spend collectively going to Sidmouth is of course much higher than that, but most of it goes to local traders - who need to find some way of channeling enough of it back to keep the goose laying golden eggs.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 12 May 04 - 09:02 AM

Bus passes have been available for a good few years now and Stagecoach, who run the service, have a man and vehicle at the entrance to the site selling tickets for the first few days of the festival.

As for the traffic; I am surprised there have not been any major accidents over the years (someone will contradict me on that one I'm sure). There is now have a coned off area by the old station and from where the footpath runs out you can take a right and end up at the Ice House Lane gate. This road is very quiet but currently the gate closes at 2330hrs (or sooner if there is a staff shortage).

I think McGrath has got a good synonym (or some other posh word!) - The festival lays the golden egg, for the traders in the town, and perhaps what is being said in the email is that they (and apparently the town council) seem unwilling to share any of the spoils. I could be wrong my information is no more than anyone elses.

Also
Any changes to the camp site have to be, and are, seriously considered, each year, there often are changes. Any suggestions you have PM them to me and I will endeavour to take them on board next year - if there is one!

But back to the story line we still have only two proposals in this thread are there any more? As I said I will relay sensible proposals on to Mrs Casey if folk want me to do that.

A


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 04 - 09:05 AM

I wonder if it'd be possible to have a levy during the week of 5p or so on every pint at pubs associated with the Festival, to go to the trust fund? Alright, the beers pricey enough already, but it'd be an excuse to have an extra pint...


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 04 - 09:06 AM

How many full season tickets are sold and what is the capacity of the main site. 2500 tickets at around 150 quid plus 48 for camping say 200 quid times 2500 = half a million. Well, OK may be this is spurious but the point I'm trying to get across is that out of 40,000 average estimated attendee's (more for 2004)   means an awful lot do not directly contribute to the festival coffers. If each paid about fifteen/twenty quid on average the festival could survive the odd year of rain. How many people go to the festival to enjoy the fringe sessions Radway, middlebar, seafront entertainment etc but do not actually contribute financially to the festival. Ive heard people boast that they they don't pay anything to the festival I wonder if they will be boasting this year.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: English Jon
Date: 12 May 04 - 10:17 AM

Remind me never to say anything again.

I live in Doncaster, OK? it's near Sheffield and bloody Barnsley.

London however is the capital... and certainly the largest city in the south of England.

Sidmouth is failing financially? right? that's the topic here, isn't it?

My point was, if you want to >make money< out of a festival, it needs to be able to draw a lot of people. London has the largest concentration of people in the South, so more potential punters.

Also, if you are traveling North/South (and dont have all day to go by the pretty way) you will most likely go via M1, M11 or A1 unless you live far enough west to get on the m5

"The world does not revolve around London." Lts....
Actually, it does. Constantly. - it joins the M3, and the M4 and the M40- that's why it's often blocked up! If you wanted to get from Kent to sidmouth youd take the A2, the M2 or the M20...onto the M25 etc.

Half my bloody life is spent using the m25 to generate enough velocity to slingshot me off to some gig or other.

"And as for the weather - to get any warmer you'd have to go up to Scotland for the Gulf Stream, or down to the Scilly Isles"

Don't know about whitby - last time I was there it was pretty chilly, but the isle of thanet (broadstairs, margate, ramsgate, canterbury, minster etc) Is >far< warmer than Sidmouth. It has less rainfall, and isn't as windy. I'm told that east anglia is actually the driest part of the country, so don't give me a load of cod meteorology. I can't see any geographical reason for the festival being held in sidmouth.

The fact that >YOU don't like london< is an entire side issue.

Basically liz, don't impose >your problem< on me. At least read my post properly before slagging me off. Yeah, it'd be tragic if sidmouth closed - my suggestion was move it to a town that is better equipped with appropriate camping facilies, enough parking and not so far off the beaten track. Sidmouth festival is too big for what the town can offer.

And another thing....

Countess Richard:

The Sidmouth campsite is for season ticket holders only and the season ticket serves as a free bus pass for the festival service. So there is no excuse whatsoever for using a vehicle around the town.

of course....richard. We all know cars are evil...

I expect you own one though, don't you?

McGraths suggestion:

"restricting cars from leaving the campsite would be possible, and would be a good idea"

McGrath is usually a voice or reason - he's one of the people on here who consistently avoids talking bollocks. However, I can't agree with this. I guess it depends on just how restrictive you are going to be:

One year when it pissed down with rain (quel suprise) at sidmouth, an over-officious steward refused to let me drive off the camp site. I had a gig to get to.

You really expect me to take a guitar, a fiddle, a melodeon, an english concertina and a hurdy gurdy on the bus? what about the PA?

What if the bus doesn't go where I need it to go? (Wimbourne, Dorset in this particular case)

Effectively, he was holding me against my will which was not only thoroughly aggravating and inconvenient, but also (as far as I know) illegal. Had he kept me any longer, I'd have missed the gig and not got paid, which is pretty bloody serious, I can tell you. It ain't a hobby.

Grrrrr.

Why do I bother.

Lts, you've really irritated me, which is a pity, because you seemed very nice when I met you - even if you did knit all the way through my gig.

Anyway, I've got to go.
Cheers,

Jon Loomes


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 12 May 04 - 10:32 AM

Hello Jon

No, I haven't got a car. I live in London and, like anyone else with a grain of sense, haven't bothered for years with one.

Even when I had one, you wouldn't have caught me zooming it around Sidmouth. It's just not necessary.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 04 - 10:33 AM

The restriction I suggested would be to have a charge each time you drove into the camp site after the first time, to encourage people to leave the car on site during the festival. Clearly in the case of needing to take a guitar, a fiddle, a melodeon, an english concertina and a hurdy gurdy, plus PA, to Wimborne it would be worth paying the charge. Less so, if it were a question of popping up and down to the town.

It's not an unusual arrangement.
.....................

But as for the question of Sidmouth being a long way from places that are a long way from Sidmouth: As I understand it the problem isn't that not enough people come. In fact if the numbers were higher it could end up making additional problems, and if they were coming for the fringe freebies, it wouldn't bring in extra money for the festival anyway.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: English Jon
Date: 12 May 04 - 10:44 AM

Fair enough Richard!

I never got wheels till I moved out of London - but I still don't think you can make a blanket comment that there is "No excuse" for using a car in Sidmouth! I'm not the only person who goes to Siddy with loads of kit - the fact is, cars are here to stay and if you pay road tax, you have a right to use a car.

McGrath's >clarified< suggestion is emminently sensible.

So, if enough people are going to Sidmouth - Why the economic dificulties? Are the tickets too cheap? or are not enough people >paying< to go to sidmouth? Maybe they aren't booking acts that draw people? Too many minor performers?

A lot of artists work the festival for "heavily reduced" fees - there is a great deal of support from musicians, dancers etc.

The cynic in me is thinking....Towersey makes a lot of money...is Sidmouth a tax loss?

JL


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 04 - 11:21 AM

In a way the problem is inherent in the type of festival it is.

If you have a campus-type festival, where everything happens on a field, like Cambridge, everybody coming pays towards the cost. But when you have it distributed around a town, with a fringe that is so big and varied thta you can have a great time without buying any tickets at all, a lot of people are not going to buy the tickets.

However, without the ticket events, much of the fringe would just evaporate, because it is largely the same performers involved in both, and manybokfvthe others woudl not be there without the main festival.

Some way of channeling money from the non-ticket buyers to the festival is needed. Collecting boxes doesn't really do the job. Asking local traders, and the local council, to stump up, is an attempt at another way to achieve this. Whether it will work is open to question. Basically it's a case of TANSTAAFL (there ain't no such thing as a free lunch).


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 May 04 - 11:41 AM

How about selling tickets to get into Sidmouth? We could have road blocks, where anyone going anywhere near Sidmouth is stopped at gun-point, hauled out of their cars and all their money is forcably taken from them? That should generate enough money keep the festival going for a few years.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Compton
Date: 12 May 04 - 01:40 PM

Now I am obviously missing something here. "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."..doesn't this old sore apply to Sidmouth. If the organisation isn't making money, how can it blame the council?. Whilst booking Rolf Harris and Lonnie Donegan puts bums in the park (if dry!!), the festival has gone light years away from the ethos of Bill Rutter and the Englishe Folke Dance ande Songe Societie who didn't cry wolf when it rained!. Judging by many contributions to this thread, hardly anyone pays to go to official festival events anyway, many solely singing, playing outside the festival, I suggest that they contemplate on that and either support the festival or accept the consequences. If the organisers of Sidmouth were a properly run business, they would probably be bankrupt now, and the company in receivership. Get back to the roots…most people that appeared at Sidmouth twenty years ago,stayed the week, treated it as a holiday, and didn't screw the organisers. Now most song events by established performers are simply a quick breeze into Sidmouth, do the show, take the money and scarper. Cover the stage area totally, borrow the National Eistedfod Marquees…or just do the whole thing for love!!


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 04 - 01:53 PM

Shambles

Your posts suggest to me that you are one of the very people that McGrath is talking about - you enjoy the fringe and don't want to purchase a ticket for formal events. Which is fine - but don't then complain, please, that the Festival organisers are holding you all to ransom by suggesting that the financial side of the festival is causing them such headaches that they are seriously considering winding it up. You cannot have any idea of the amount of work that goes into organising a Festival such as that (nor do I) but it is a huge task and a massive responsibility. I for one do not blame them for trying to get local businesses, who benefit from the Festival, to support it in this way. More power to their elbow. Why do you always have to over dramatise everything in this way. Our own Festival was threatened a few years ago and the visible public support it received saved it. It was only because we spent a lot of time making sure people found out about the danger of it going that it was able to be saved. I suspect this is a similar exercise. However, if the current organisers do decide to give it up, perhaps you would like to step in, underwrite a newly formattted festival yourself and show them and the rest of us how it should be done.

The fringe elements of most festivals rely on the ticketed parts to provide the infrastructure of campsites, toilets, catering facilities, marketing, licensing, insurance, public relations etc. So if the ticketed part of the festival goes, it would be difficult to see the rest of it carrying on in anything like the same format. Granted a group of people could all decide to go to Sidmouth together and book into hotels, B&Bs or guesthouses, but from the way some people on here talk, they wouldn't be happy unless there was a campsite with scouts providing cooked breakfasts and the opportunity for late night sings. A normal site, open to all members of the public, wouldn't necessarily be willing to put up with that.

I've never been to Sidmouth and might never go. It would be a loss to the scene if it went - but not to me personally. But I just don't get your attitude, I really don't.
   
This is a side issue but - I am involved in organising a much smaller Festival, which uses several pubs as venues. I was astonished at a recent Festival, when a member of the public, who is well known on the folk scene in the north, complained to me that one of the pub landlords had 'had a go at him', saying that it wasn't on for him to just sit in the pub all afternoon listening to the music, and not buy a drink. HE on the other hand, was astonished when I agreed with the landlord and felt it was a reasonable point of view.

I am amazed sometimes at the expectations some people have. That pub landlord was paying money to the Festival to be a venue, increase his trade etc. There was no charge to go into the pub to hear the music. Am I the only one to think that it is a reasonable expectation that, once there, the listeners will purchase a drink from the bar?

Sorry for the rant - I feel better now


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: breezy
Date: 12 May 04 - 01:59 PM

so Steveeep organises Sidders

which other Events fests is he associated with in an organising capacity?

Does he do the National and towersey?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:03 PM

Sidmouth festival has never been an earner for anyone involved in organising it - but it has been a significant source of income for local businesses. The increases in ticket and concessionaire prices have been down to rising costs.

The festival has been kept going for many years by people who care about it, but can't afford to subsidise it indefinitely. The official festival and the fringe have a symbiotic relationship, and many sessions in the Theatre and Middle Bars have benefited from free performances by booked guests. It's not really helpful to cast aspersions on the various organisers, who've managed to keep it going for 50 years in spite of all the problems.

Going to Sidmouth festival when I was a teenager has had a profound effect on the rest of my life. Sidmouth is a very special place anyway (part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site), but Folk Week can, and should be, a great welcome to folk music, song, storytelling and dance.

It may be that the festival should be smaller, but it's not unreasonable to expect that the people who benefit from getting additional punters should contribute to the costs.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:35 PM

Move it to somewhere in Essex. It is the driest part of the country and flat. They could do with some culture too.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:46 PM

Where in Essex? The future of the Moreton Festival is under threat from the NIMBYs...


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: vectis
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:53 PM

English Jon has mentioned Broadstairs, my local festival. Several years ago the local council did a cost benefit analysis and found out how much income the festival generated for the town - a Hell of a lot. They promptly put their hands in their pockets to secure the future of the festival BECAUSE IT WAS TO THE FINANCIAL BENEFIT OF THE TOWN. The festival has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Maybe the burghers of Sidmouth would do the same and support their local businesses by supporting the festival. Or do they forget what the town gains from the festival and assume that they will only line Mrs Caseys pockets with gelt?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 04 - 06:18 PM

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got 'til it's gone"


I'm hoping that this is a warning shot rather than a parting shot. These kind of things take time to organise - it's the sort of thing that a Chamber of Trade should be involved in. There doesn't seem to be a Chamber of Trade in Sidmouth, maybe they need one, and perhaps this is the sort of issue that could get one set up. They need our custom, and the custom of the people we draw to the town.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 May 04 - 06:59 PM

Your posts suggest to me that you are one of the very people that McGrath is talking about - you enjoy the fringe and don't want to purchase a ticket for formal events.

Assumption they say is the mother of all cock-ups and there is rather too much ill-informed assumtion made in this posting from a guest who states they have never attended.

I am simply trying to ignore the many red herrings and concentrate minds on what the problem presented to the Sidmouth festival, in its current form is. Who is presenting this problem, and what can be done to ensure that the festival tradition continues in some form. The problem of having a private company organising the festival in the current form, is the fact that they can pull out at any time. This would have come to a head eventually and it is probably as well that it has now.

The current set up is not a trust, charity and the average attendee has no real say in it. No way of getting any of the suggestions made here, in place, and no one from the current organsers is actually asking for any of these suggestions.

If we can assume anything, Should the funds for underwriting the event be found, and the situation facing them changes, the current organisation would intend to carry on as before. I am sure that more money for other aspects of the festival would be welcome but that is not the current problem outlined in the PR. So there is no urgent need to try and force people to further subsidise official events they do not attend nor get any direct benefit from. This would be like thse in a session, demanding that the current organisers buy them drinks.

Appreciating the efforts of the current organisers to date, is one thing but supporting the current festival set up, and to what extent remains a matter of choice. As is when you attend and what events interest you. I hope that it is accepted that these aspects should remain a matter of personal choice and you can only be in one place at a time. Is it suggested that someone who can only attend on one day and chooses to attend a fringe session on that day, should pay for a ticket for an event they cannot attend?

I've never been to Sidmouth and might never go. It would be a loss to the scene if it went - but not to me personally. But I just don't get your attitude, I really don't.

Many of the contributors to this thread confess not to be regular attendees or never to have attended at all and make no contribution at all, either by directly by buying tickets or indirectly to the local economy. These poster do not appear to be critised in the same way as attendees to the fringe events appear to be. Is this not is a little strange? For even if some of these critised folk never paid directly for ticketed event, and most of them do at some time during the week, they would at least be making an indirect contribution to the local enonomy and to the overall attraction and colour of the event.

The facilties are mainly in place as this is a town festival. The regular attendees to the fringe events probably make more contribution to the local economy. As the main official events now tend not to take place in the town but in the out-of-town arena. So if the ticketed part of the currently organised festival should go - most of the current fringe events would have little difficulty in continuing. Some indeed now take place at Sidmouth in the winter, as has been pointed out.

But as some have never attended - they would not know this but would still appear to think they were entitled to make assumptions about and critise those who do attend and support this festival,(and others) directly and indirectly by doing so.

You can organise as many concerts, dances, workshops etc as you like, but it remains the folk who make a festival and Sidmouth is a fine festival because of all the folk who attend. Let us try and ensure that they can continue to attend in the future. Supporting fringe events does not make you an unrealistic or bad person. Nor should the assumption be made that it is not possible for these people to support the ticketed events also - many do both every year.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 12 May 04 - 07:19 PM

Countess, how about Clacton-on-sea?

On a serious note, should the current promoters should be expected to take the risk? There seems to be this expectation from the interested parties that they should. Maybe the BBC should sponsor this event rather than Cambridge; but that is another thing altogether. A trust fund for covering the weather has been mentioned. How about the local government, chamber of commerce (and businesses) and folk music lovers who can't bear to see this "tradition" die, set up a proper trust to organise the whole event? They could sub-contract to the current promoters as consultants so that the knowledge/experience gained over the years is not lost; maybe Chris Pegg who has been organising Cropredy for so many years would relish a fresh challenge. Maybe Exmouth or Weymouth would be happy to help host the event. Study the rainfall charts for the area and have it at a drier time, use some marquees. Traditional songs change over time.....


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,another guest
Date: 12 May 04 - 08:15 PM

Never underestimate the power of vicarious consumption- I might never have been but i relish th eopportunity of going and desire the chance to continue doing so

A Letter Writer


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 04 - 08:24 PM

I assume that when attending fringe events Shambles puts a reasonable contribution in the collecting tins that go round. (I'm not being sarcastic here, I am sure he does.) Many people do, quite a lot don't, especially when it comes to the outdoor stuff, like the prom and the dance displays.

Fringe festival goers benefit indirectly from the existence of the core events and organisation. In order to have the whole fringe - the sessions, tune and music, the social dances in the Anchor, the activities on the prom, the dance displays, the processions - there has to be more than a fringe. (And it works the other way as well.) In order to have that central core of events, including the organisational stuff and the underwriting, more money is needed than comes in from the ticket receipts and the collections.

What is needed, it appears, is an improved method of ensuring that this gap is filled, so that everyone can benefit.

Thisnis a separate issue fromthe one of th eord=ganisatinal structure of the Festival, though obviously it is realted. There would indeed be advantages in a system where the Festival was run by some kind of trust, which would involve people with roots in Sidmouth the town as well as in Sidmouth the Festival. I hope that this kind of option is being worked on. But setting up that kind of thing takes time.

I would hope that the 5Oth Sidmouth will be such a roaring success that everyone will realise it would be crazy to let it collapse, and that that will give the momentum for setting up a more viable structure for keeping it alive.

Let's pray for good weather. Rainy Sidmouths can be just as much fun, but they work out expensive for the Festival.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 04 - 08:38 PM

Mike Harding tonight stated that Cambridge is to be sponsered by BBC
radio 2. Can I taste sour grapes OR IS IT JUST A COINCEDECE??????


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 04 - 08:48 PM

Now why Cambridge should need a sponsorship subsidy is a bit of a puzzle, given that it's an all ticket affair (and pricey tickets too), and presumably the organisation gets a healthy chunk of the bar profits as well.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 May 04 - 02:31 AM

I assume that when attending fringe events Shambles puts a reasonable contribution in the collecting tins that go round. (I'm not being sarcastic here, I am sure he does.) Many people do, quite a lot don't, especially when it comes to the outdoor stuff, like the prom and the dance displays

Many of those in Sidmouth during that week, are not attracted by the folk music at all but by the fact that their are lots of people gathered. People like the buskers and street traders, whilst adding to the overall colour, have not been generally encouraged by either the organsers, the council or the local businesses. For obvious reasons.

This has lead to a general official view that has distanced the featival proper from the town and to the feeling that the town is full of free-loaders who make no contribution to the festival.

Rightly or wrongly this has lead to a situation where largely the town-based finge musical activities do occur almost separate from the official festival. I am sure that many would continue whatever future form the festival may take. I am not sure if this fairly recent move out of town has been intentional on the part of the current organisers but because of this - it is difficult to see how (or indeed why) those in the town should be expected to pay for and support official events that they do not attend out of the town.

But it has created a great mix and the seafront and lots of pubs where folk are largely free to make their own music. The pubs in particular are now largely free of official events, This I would suggest is a good thing. Many other festivals (over) organise offical event in the few pubs that are available for informal get-togethers, to the general detriment of the whole event. So that folk cannot find anywhere to play together infomally.

This is not the case at Sidmouth, Many of those that make music and attend these events are also attending and contributing to the offical festival events and none of them are to be blamed for the problems currently facing the current festval organisers. We could all contibute more. I wonder why those who gain most benefit from the official events would expect those that do not, to subsidise them? Rather than contributing more (in the form of increased ticket prices) themselves.

This is what I refer to when I talk of the divisive nature of the PR. It has everyone blaming everyone else.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 13 May 04 - 03:25 AM

Just as an aside - I did offer to get any suggestions back to the organisers at Mrs Casey - I also asked for any camp site comments to be sent to me as a pm - I have the means - I am not employed by Mrs Casey BTW.

Comparison to other Festivals is spurious - as we have just heard about Cambridge and the need for sponsorship there - 'the arts' in general have always needded sponsorship, and still do, at the risk of starting another 'row' look how much Covent Garden and ENO take each year!

Obvious comments relating to local chamber of commerce obviously have been tried I know - you can't run anything on this scale and not tap in to all available resource. That is the point that is made in the original script 'East Devon District Council have indicated their financial support will soon come to an end'

Talking of tents above the last time I was at Broadstairs as a booked artist they were very pleased to get their first big concert venue - what was it? - a big marquee - The camp site is not secure it is easy to slip in - there is a footpath though it! - Look at the pilfering that still goes on at Sidmouth which is as secure as possible - I am not criticising Broadstairs I enjoyed it - all festivals have their own series of problems and chacter - I also left after our work was complete - sorry - other commitments.

If this thread stands any chance of being useful other than to vent the spleen and bad mouth the festival organisation at Sidmouth it needs to keep focussed on ideas and discussions that could contribute to finding a solution.

I am please to see it has now been realised that the fringe would loose its edge too if the main festival were not there. Often the sign of a good festival is the fringe elements around it - and not just folk either.

Ticket prices - look what you get chargfed for a weekend or day at WOMAD!

Hugs to all though it is good to see a high level of interest!

A


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: s&r
Date: 13 May 04 - 06:05 AM

I wonder what the cost of wet weather insurance would be, and whether East Devon would pay for that cover? Or other interested parties

Stu


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: JennyO
Date: 13 May 04 - 08:22 AM

Maybe it would not be such a problem getting wet weather insurance if the Arena area was not so affected by the weather. As I said before, it seems really obvious to me that there should be cover there.

If I was an insurance company being asked to underwrite the event, I would expect that they would not be seen to be tempting fate so much and making themselves so vulnerable to the weather.

Is it possible that the insurance would be cheaper if the risk was not so great? Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me like something worth considering.

Jenny


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 13 May 04 - 08:41 AM

A marquee for a reception for 150 people costs around £1500 to hire (you could have 200+ audience + stage). A marquee to cover the Arena would cost - how much? £20,000? I doubt it.

I agree with JennyO: What efforts have been made to minimise weather dependency? That would reduce insurance.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 May 04 - 09:26 AM

That is the point that is made in the original script 'East Devon District Council have indicated their financial support will soon come to an end'

And East Devon Council say.

Any suggestion that the council has indicated that its financial support will soon come to an end is highly inaccurate and is strongly refuted.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 13 May 04 - 09:45 AM

Begining with 'wot no Sidmouth' and moving to

So now we delve in to the depths of politics, who is being more economic with the truth then whom?

I've been at meetings with 'high ranking' public officials where the pre meeting discussions were followed by a meeting that did not match those discussions and then a report later that varied from both!

It's not only a Westminster perogative to be economic in this way. Perhaps both (or all) sides are playing brinkmanship (not unusual) and perhaps one side is now begining to get movement. I don't know. I don't operate at that level but as it has got national and heavy local coverage anything could be happening behind the scenes whilst we get all airiated up front!

Andy


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 May 04 - 10:02 AM

Comparison to other Festivals is spurious - as we have just heard about Cambridge and the need for sponsorship there - 'the arts' in general have always needded sponsorship, and still do, at the risk of starting another 'row' look how much Covent Garden and ENO take each year!

Sponsership is one thing, but it is a different word from what is being suggested here. Opera, Ballet and Classical Music would not exist in their current form if it were not for the huge Government grants and subsidies. Rightly or wrongly, many people feel upset they do subsidise, through their taxes, many grand events and institutions that they do not attend and get no personal benefit from.

I think that view is highly understandable and yet it is being suggested that folk who attend Sidmouth during that week and receive little or no direct benefit from the official ticketed events, should be targeted in order to subsidise those who do? I can understand where and why this idea is held but it is not realistic or very helpful. It is frustrating that this successful and popular event does still struggle for money when so many people are attracted to the town by it, but short of charging admission to the town, the answer must be looked for elsewhere.

I am please to see it has now been realised that the fringe would loose its edge too if the main festival were not there. Often the sign of a good festival is the fringe elements around it - and not just folk either.

I am not too sure that this has been realised. I am not sure if folk realise that the Sidmouth fringe is very different. Most informal sessions etc, at are least referred to in the official programmes of other festivals. Unless things have very recently changed - the Sidmouth programme does not list the pub sessions etc and the two events tend to exist side by side, but as if in a different universe. I am not sure if the official event finished tomorrow, that it would make very much difference or if some folk in the town would even notice.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 May 04 - 10:10 AM

So now we delve in to the depths of politics, who is being more economic with the truth then whom?

I only put these two quotes in to let others decide for themselves.

From my own bitter and personal experience with local authorities, I have absolutly no doubt that the council are telling 'whopping great porkies'.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Dan Abnormal
Date: 13 May 04 - 10:29 AM

As has been written on other messageboards, the usual principal behind a promoters job is to risk their money in order to try to make a profit. Seeing as Sidmouth is non-profit making I can fully understand Mrs Casey not wanting to risk their own money to prop the festival up while it makes a loss. Perhaps something needs to change in the structure of the festival that makes it able to survive, rather than handing over the bill to the town.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,cardboard cutout
Date: 13 May 04 - 03:59 PM

so what is the first thing you would change?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 May 04 - 04:03 PM

"and receive little or no direct benefit from the official ticketed events,"

But, I suggest, they receive very significant indirect benefit. That's the reason why collecting for the Festival, and putting money in the collection, is a normal part of fringe events, and of those free events which aren't fringe, such as the processions. (What events fall into which category, fringe or free, is a moot point sometimes. In a sense "fringe" should just mean the events that aren't in the working programme, and there aren't that many of those)

I agree very much that it's a shame we have lost a number of venues in the centre - some of these have been because of town redevelopment (the Beach Store and the SWEB) or tightened safety rules (the Drill Hall), or increased costs of using them (Carinas and the Cinema). If there were a way to reverse this tendency, it'd be great. But there are still a fair number of official events happening down in the town centre.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: English Jon
Date: 13 May 04 - 04:31 PM

Interesting points raised.

If the big financial difficulty is securing the insurance, it would make sense to lower the risk as far as underwriting is concerned.

The arena is the largest of the sidmouth stages, but the only one that isn't covered over (and therefore weatherproof).

Logic would dictate that the other venues do not have the same weather dependant risk attached - Maybe downsize the whole festival a notch or two? Putting the biggest acts on in smaller venues means that they would get less potential punters (maximum capacity being a lot smaller), but a higher percentage in the event of foul weather.

Otherwise - what about staging more things at the Ham and Bowd marquees? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think they are used much in the day are they?

Jon Loomes


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 May 04 - 05:32 PM

I think both the Ham and the Bowd marquees are pretty heavily used most of tne day. (And the Bowd is far too far out to be a good concert venue - the only people who'd get there would be campers.)

Bringing back the wet-weather marquee at the Arena might make a lot of sense. And they need to sort out the arrangements for stopping the walking areas turn into muddy morasses when it rains, because that is teh problem. With a brolly and a waterproof to sit in watching a performance in the rain isn't such a big deal, and the stage area is roofed in these days. But the mud is, and it's not that hard to prevent it becoming a major problem.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: JennyO
Date: 13 May 04 - 08:25 PM

Ah yes, I remember that mud - and the experience of wading ankle-deep to get to some of the stalls. Some good drainage would fix that. And a very large marquee for the concerts. At some of our big festivals in Oz, the marquees are huge, and the sides are open anyway, so that when it is not raining, people can spill out the edges. Good one McGrath.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 May 04 - 08:55 PM

But, I suggest, they receive very significant indirect benefit.

That is probably why it is correct that the indirect method of monetary contributions via collections is undertaken from them. I hope you would agree that these folk should be able to choose to contribute or not, towards the enjoyment of those who pay to attend and directly benefit from the official events? But this method was thought not to be effective.

Some way of channeling money from the non-ticket buyers to the festival is needed. Collecting boxes doesn't really do the job.

I am not sure that this is needed or that any further increase in this approach is helpful to an all-round good festival atmosphere. The non-ticket buyers certainly contibute to the local economy and there is already a feeling in the town that the official festival organisers would wish to be able charge everyone for everything. Charging vistors for admission to the arena, is an example of what is thought by some to be a step too far. What is gained in revenue from this, is thought worth more than the further distancing of the official festival from the town and casual visitors.

It was suggested that there was a symbotic relationship between the fringe events and the official festival, and I would go along with this. I certainly don't argee with the idea expressed from some quarters that the fringe has more like a parasitic realtionship. Indeed, rightly or wrongly many feel that is the official festival that is already trying to suck their blood.

I am really not too sure either how much indirect benefit from the official festival events (other than possibly the fine company) is received by a participant in a seafront or pub session. The best things in life are free and long may they remain so. There may not be such a thing as a free lunch but many folk are not looking for one. But shouldn't you be able to sing and then eat your own sandwiches on the seafront, without someone expecting payment.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 14 May 04 - 03:17 AM

Back now, off line at home due to home being out of the water!

All seems reasonable today, If anyone suggested the fringe was a parasite I would ****** them. The strong fringe in my estimation shows a damm good festival behind it! I know folk who buy a sesaon ticket, camp on the festival site attned fringe events and LNE and that is it - fair enough their choice.

I think it is easy to misconstrue the Arena thing a bit

In bad weather there are no (or few) casual visitors to the town so none or not many who would pay their 5 squids to park - all day!!! - pay their site entry fee to the arena showground - some then go even further and pay to go to or stay for an evening in the arena, these are important to the festival! The Arena itself I would imagine is a part of the problem. In the wet audiences have sat on the stage itself for some performances but you can't get 3000 on there. When my children were small the Arena provided a good night out and the kids loved sitting on the grass - rolling down it as they didn't like Melanie and the woodstock memories - but they loved Rolf Harris - both times - then they were older.

A wet weather alternative may be a good idea and may help but the lack of the walk up passing trade must be a major part of the rest, even with such additions in place - the season tickets are still bought and those folk still there - although they may not come back the next year. A marketing problem which from Lynnes Thread seems not to be there this year, but one that I seems to have been thoroughly addressed after the year of the rain.

So we have - Big Arena Tent - Trust fund - More events in the town in smaller venues.

If we do some of this - where do we put the traders - and replace the income to the festival from them and maintain the income to them that makes it worth their while to be there. AND before anyone says they don't need the traders - How many of us have bought something from there - clothes music food, even if we didn't want it and always treasure it as 'bought at Sidmouth that year'!

BTW for reasons that we do not know the Bowd has not been there for 2 years now and is a great benefit to Road and camper safety as far as I am concerned, thik waht that used to be like in Rain too!

A


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 14 May 04 - 09:05 AM

I don't see any threats to us festival goers other than seriously increased prices or no festival.

When you look at the size of the Budget, the physical size of the festival and the number of Artists who perform and even sing its praises - even when working abroad! - one can only assume that all normal business and profesional channels have been followed and this is a last resort.

From where I stand there appears to be a Council / Sidmouth / Festival Organisation problem which needs to be solved and this is no doubt part of this process.

All tussles of all description include a large degree of posturing before and after I suspeect we are at the end of the first posturing pahse and ready for the battle, we will get some result eventually which will also be presented differently by all sides of the dispute.

Or am I just simple and Niaive?

A


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Dan Abnormal
Date: 14 May 04 - 09:58 AM

I think this boils down to - something in the organisation of the festival needs to change in order to sustain the current artistic programme with the current ammount of money generated. If the festival is making a loss and will bankrupt Mrs Casey in the event of a wet year, then Mrs Casey are not up to continuing to run the festival. There are other companies more than qualified to run Sidmouth, its just that they exist more in the mainstream world than in the cosy folk-clique that we all know and "love".

This is big business and it needs somebody of equal stature to run it. It does not mean the festival must "sell out" or change in ethos or outlook, it just means that the money generated has to go a bit further than it already does. I can well imagine a mainstream promotion company employing a suitable artistic director to run Sidmouth for them while underwriting its future. I personally would rather see this happen than the businesses of Sidmouth all to contribute to a 'rainy day' fund, because once that money is wiped out it all has to happen all over again. At least a bigger company is in the business of taking risks with its money.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 14 May 04 - 10:00 AM

Fiddler,
I agree with you but your not simple or niaive!!!.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 14 May 04 - 10:12 AM

Dan,


Of course you are right given the climate in which music promotion operates in Britain today. What I find wrong in this, however, is the continuing lack of government funding, in comparison to other European countries, for cultural events and especially traditional arts.

From personal experience, I know this not to be the case in Germany and France and I've heard similar reports from Spain where festivals are massive and usually charge little or nothing to punters.

Is this not just another reflection of how we in Britain (and most particularly in England) have far too little regard for our cultural heritage?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 May 04 - 11:01 AM

"where do we put the traders - and replace the income to the festival from them and maintain the income to them that makes it worth their while to be there."

I think there's a misunderstanding here - what I mean in this context, and I think what others have meant, by . "the traders" isn't the craft tent and all that, it's the local shops and pubs and restaurants and guest houses and so forth.

The stalls selling crafts and all kinds of stuff like that are a very important part of the festival, and they pay a healthy chunk of money already. I don't think they should be expecxted to ay more, and if that were to happen we'd probably lose a lot of valued people - who often turn up in other parts of the festival singing and playing and dancing. That's aside from the pleasure we all get from having a chance to buyt the stuff they are selling.

As I indicated above, I don''t really see the free events as "fringe" - mostly they are very much part of the festival, and just happene to be open to people who haven't paid in advance. That's why tmost of them are included in the working programme. When the collection box comes round, I pass it on, because I feel that my season ticket means I have paid already. If I hadn't got a season I'd automatically be putting a couple of quid in. I wouldn't see that as subsidising season ticket holders, it would just be me paying my share towards the unseen organisational costs that allow the free event to take place, and ensure that the other people taking part are there at all.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Dan Abnoramal
Date: 14 May 04 - 12:11 PM

Countess - But if I'm paying £201 pounds for a ticket and camping then I expect the ticket money to cover the cost of the event. I agree that more should be given in subsidies in an ideal world, but if you were overhauling the structure of the festival from the ground up you would make sure the revenue covered the cost of the event.

I don't think this is an impossible idea, but I do think it takes someone to be ruthless while still recognising what the "spirit of Sidmouth" is. I want someone to carefully sift the remnants of baby from the torrent of bathwater(if thats not too gory a mental picture). I think the festival should be able to stand on its own two feet if possible.

This is possible. It is I promise.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 May 04 - 07:40 PM

"in an ideal world" - in a way I feel we actually live in world that is pretty close to ideal, but with a few problems that haven't been worked out that means we often mess it up.

But that's drift on my part.
............................

Mind, we've all drifted this thread away from "what can be done to save Sidmouth?" to "how it could be better organised?" - and though that is obviously relevant, the kinds of improved organisation we've mostly been talking about aren't the things that in themselves could save Sidmouth.

The two crucial things about the crisis, as I read the situation, are:

1) The gap between costs and income (including insurance) needs to be closed, either by getting more income, or finding ways of saving money that will not reduce income and will not destroy the qualities that make Sidmouth worth saving.

2) The indications are that the present private organisers are reluctant to continue to soldier on; and it seems likely that some new organisational structure, involving a wider base and some kind of Trust, could be more viable for the future.

I'm sure that some kind of Sidmouth will continue to happen. I think it's got a momentum that will pull us through.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Phot
Date: 14 May 04 - 08:15 PM

I may be being rather simplistic, but has Sidders got to big for its own good? Big bands, big names, but where is the variety, I hate to harp back to my previous comment, it seems that the festival is focused on bands/acts that will bring in the pounds. Yes the festival must be a viable buiness, but it has lost the reason for its exestance? International! Not just a Bangra Troupe from Brum, or a Harmony Group from South Africa.

Lets get the Whole thing back together, a little less of the big names, and a lot more of what makes the folk world tick.

A team from Poland, Iceland ,Danmark(Sorry,Denmark), Spain, Bermuda, Chillie, how many small teams of traditional dancers and musicans are we missing out on? Yes, their team may not be as pro as the bigger groups, but could their version be closer to the original?

Just a thought....

Wassail! Chris


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 16 May 04 - 07:01 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 16 May 04 - 11:42 AM

Part of the problem is that the antis got the professional performance part of the festival (apart from the Ham marquee) moved out to the Knowle Arena and Bowd...

Phot - I'm afraid I'm old enought to remember when the Punjabi dancers came from Wolverhampton, the Polish dancers from Southampton, the Ukrainian dancers from Manchester - and the Irish dancers from Yetminster!

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 May 04 - 08:25 PM

Part of the problem is that the antis got the professional performance part of the festival (apart from the Ham marquee) moved out to the Knowle Arena and Bowd...

If the 'antis' were responsible for this - why? And what were the 'pros' doing whilst this was happening?

Has the Ham marquee also gone now?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 May 04 - 08:52 PM

I'm all for including non-local ethnic music from communities within England, alongside foreign teams. It's a recognition that we are a multi-ethnic country - but in a context where the native ethnic English traditions are all around, and valued.

I much prefer when the foreign teams (incuidngthe local "foreign" teams) are dedicated amateurs, for whom it's a holiday, in which they stay the whole week and rough it like most of the festival goers, rather than professionals dropping in for another gig on a frantic tour. Cheaper too, I'd have thought, but that's not the main reason to prefer doing it that way.

And I'd like to see the festival as it changes move away from the show-biz emphasis that has started to creep in over the years, for understandible reasons.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Phot
Date: 17 May 04 - 01:35 AM

Kitty, didn't the Polish Team all have red boots that they only wore while performing? Or am I just going daft in my old age?

Wassail! Chris


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 17 May 04 - 02:32 AM

Phot - I think you're right about the boots!

I think the move out of town was a combination of needing more space, and locals complaining about the noise (the LNE used to be in the Drill Hall).

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 17 May 04 - 07:33 AM

Imagine LNE in the Drill Hall now!

Thinking about it last night and looking at some of the replies on this thread: -

EFDSS got in to tropuble with a small festival - probably too big an overhead per ticket sale.

Mrs Caseys have driven that down by increasing the size of the festival etc. etc. etc. - like it or lump it that is a very likely scenario - It is good business.

ergo (latin)

Sidmouth should not be there at all!

Or (Not latin)

A wet weather provision (financial fund) needs to be established to ensure the survival of it!

BTW having been involved in small one day festivals - even financially supporting events before too the organisation of a week bears little or no comparison wiht the shorter events!

Finally

Think about - if your dirty and wet and probably cold for two days - what the h*ll! But if it lasts 7 Days or more what a *****!

We've got to get away form the - who is managing and wqhat are they doing and appreciate the nature of the problem more.

Andy


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 May 04 - 11:18 AM

We've got to get away form the - who is managing and wqhat are they doing and appreciate the nature of the problem more.

This is difficult as Mrs Casey tell us that East Devon Council want to reduce their contribution and East Devon Council say this is not the case.

This is the problem........

Now whoever we may choose to believe and trust more - the important thing is that these two parties do not believe or trust each other. Because of this (now public) position and brinkmanship, I am not sure that I can see much of a future for the current event.

Whatever we may appreciate, we just appear to be like a football that one party thinks the other party wishes to kick in to touch.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 17 May 04 - 12:22 PM

You use very selective editing and quoting on this thread Shambles, also on your u.m.f postings. You clearly have some sort of down on the festival orgainisers so to clarify your statement:

This is difficult as Mrs Casey tell us that East Devon Council want to reduce their contribution and East Devon Council say this is not the case

I would add that Mrs Casey, to my reading, have stated that the EDDC funding will come to an end, not reduce

(quote)

East Devon District Council have indicated their financial support will soon come to an end

The EDDC statement "suggests" this is not the case but my reading of the EDDC satement is that they are only providing financial support to 2005, which ties in with Mrs Caseys statement that it is shortly coming to an end. Beyond that I read that they are making no financial provision but they are looking at ways to help the festival continue beyond 2005 with "other" funding

(quote)

"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".


Personally I read that as direct EDDC financial support ending in 2005 as stated by MrsC and the EDDC will "help" the organisers find a way forward beyond that (but not financial).


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: SarahNash
Date: 17 May 04 - 12:33 PM

Practical stuff then:

1. Budgeting to assume that you will get a certain number of spontaneous bookings just doesn't make sense. I'm sure this was factored in to keep the ticket price down, but it seems to have come back to bite the organisers where it hurts. This should be kept out of the main festival budget and kept as profit. That way, you don't make a huge loss if people don't turn up on the day because of the rain.

2. So the contingency fund was wiped out in 1997 and no-one did anything about it? This seems somewhat odd to me, but I guess we're stuck with it...

A lot of people go to Sidmouth though. If everyone gave £10 to a fund, the money would be easily raised. I did post thoughts to this effect on the BBC board, but it got removed...must be radical then.

Cheers
BFB


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,DevonBoy
Date: 17 May 04 - 01:16 PM

As a former local, who's been going back to work voluntarily at the festival for the last 10 years or so, I've seen a lot of people's points of view on this festival. I know Sidmouth pretty well, and most locals with a brain know how vital the festival is to the town - it's a complete myth that they hate it. Yes, Sidmouth has a big retired community, and a few of them hate everything, but there are also a lot of normal fun-loving people in that area, and of course a number of people who are healthily indifferent to it all, and are perhaps no more than amused at all those strangers who surely wouldn't wear pewter tankards round their necks in their own high streets.

East Devon District Council are a typical rural conservative council, though, and are never going to have anything like the supportive attitude of the likes of Cambridge City Council (I believe that cambridge folk festival even gets free PAs from the council's own music venues, and has a lot of council employee's time put into it, at the council tax payers' expense).

All of the Sidmouth festival organisers work their flipping ars*s off for that week, because they love it more than anyone. To suggest that any of them are making money out of it is quite amusing - they happen to be those strange sort of people who are prepared to risk a lot in the hope of making something happen that's fun for a lot of people.

Yes, the ticket prices are high - too high for a lot of people, which is a big shame - but they have to be that high because no one will sponsor the festival. At least you can pay to go to single events if you can't afford a season ticket, which is what I always used to do.

Unfortunately, it's the distributed nature of the festival that makes it cost so much, but that's the only sort of festival you can have in a town like Sidmouth. Anyway, it's a lot more fun than Cambridge Folk Festival, which is okay for about a couple of hours, but then you get bored because it's so small, and the bands all play multiple times, and it's the Levellers yet again (I used to live next to the Cambridge festival site, so I was lucky enough to be able to go home and watch TV instead where it got really dull, and look forward to going to Sidmouth!)

Hiring lots of big marquees in separate venues, kitting them out with full PA, etc, and paying big name acts to play in them is never going to be cheap. And the health and safety stuff that now cripples all festivals is even worse for Sidmouth. Lots of people moaned when the Bowd marquee closed, but that's the festival trying to stay viable by making itself a bit smaller ..

And because the town is so accessible to Sidmouth festival ticket holders, the festival catering stalls don't have a captive market, so people aren't buying much food from them (the pubs, bakeries and Somerfields/Trumps, get all that potential income) - even half the drink consumed in the late night extra is bought from Lidl's. And of course you can't expect all those crowds of people soaking up the festival atmosphere in the town to pay, even if the organised side of the festival indirectly generated a lot of that atmosphere ..

So if it takes a shocking statement to wake up the rather selfish businesses of Sidmouth, and the council, then that's a good idea - I'm sure they are serious though, and Steve + co have put so much work into that event, so really perhaps it's only fair for them to quit when the going's good.

It will let people down with a big bump if that's it - the lovely old small festival that people like to remember, with just with a few people singing in the pubs, and with no variety in the dance events, and no capacity for late-night events, well, it might suit people who one day would like to retire there, but personally I prefer to have a bit more fun ..


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 17 May 04 - 01:58 PM

Let me do some between the lines interpretation!
A quote form Kevins reply

"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."

Do we take this to mean the Concil want to emply Mrs Casey (and all their Stewards and Staff to run the festival?

I can fully understand Mrs Casey's standpoint if this is the case,
EFDSS took the festival to Sidmouth!
Mrs Casey (Like them or hate them) made it work again
Now the golden egg is being stalked by someone - I for one would not be interested in Working for Sidmouth Council - I don't think -

Health and Safety and PELs are bad enough without throwing Council politics and egos in to the ring too!

Someobody please interpret this differently = tell me I am wrong and it doesn't say that at all!

Andy


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

Having the BBC as asponser thay are only asking for the sponsership and the advertising.Why do you think they are doing what they are doing for nothing,must be joking its for the money.They have tried for several years to sponser Sidmouth but Steve has prevented this happening,one up on steve i say.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Compton
Date: 17 May 04 - 03:20 PM

How about having The Coors Brewery (got to have something BIG) Sidmouth Folk Festival/ The Esso Sidmouth Folk Festival..or anybodys's Sidmouth Folk Festival who will throw in £200,000!?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 19 May 04 - 04:42 AM

And just to be clear again as to what is being requested, as I read it. They are not asking for someone to throw in 200,000, regardless, but to underwrite "potential" losses of that amount, since the contingency fund and more was wiped out in the year of mud.

I'm sure that as funds allow, the festival would be building up a contingency again, reducing the underwriting requirement. It's simply that without outside help with the underwriting it's a massive risk for the current organisers.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 May 04 - 07:07 AM

I always assumed that insuring against excessive rain was an automatic part of running outdoor events in this country. It might not be cheap, but it's necessary. I've even heard of cases where the organisers actually hope for rain because they reckon they'll make more on the insurance than they would from the attendance.

Anybody in the insurance/underwriting business who understands these things better?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 19 May 04 - 09:04 AM

2nd guessing here, and being a sidmouth Regular, I would say the risk is probably too great (really spelled expensive) to be managed!

Thanks for that insight Kevin

A


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 19 May 04 - 09:36 AM

This is an important and informative debate – my thanks to all who've contributed so far. Having attended the festival a mere three times, I've been happy to let the Sidmouth regulars make the running until now. But I believe there's one point that needs to be given a bit more emphasis, so here goes.

SIDMOUTH IS UNIQUE!

In my experience (and in that of many others I've spoken to) there's nothing else like it on offer at present.

Lots of other festivals around the UK are very good, and quite a few are excellent. But they are all good in much the same ways. If any one of them went under, it would be a misfortune, but not a tragedy. The gap could be filled. If Sidmouth goes, then all of us - the regulars, the occasional attenders, and those who say "I must go sometime, but not this year" - will lose an opportunity that would be almost impossible to replace.

Of course Sidmouth is not perfect. Anyone who's been there tends to have at least one complaint – about the content and structure of the programme, about the facilities on the campsite, about the rather inconvenient topography of the town itself … and so on.   But I've never met anyone who didn't feel that their grievances were outweighed by the benefits of the unique Sidmouth experience. Surely this is something worth making an effort to preserve?

If a genuinely independent trust fund were set up, I'm sure that many people would be willing to chip in a few quid per year in exchange for some token benefits ( A badge? A tee-shirt? A newsletter?) The Royal Shakespeare Company has been running a scheme like this for a long time, and many other arts institutions do the same.   

Of course a bigger subsidy from local or national government, more support from the BBC, and substantial private sponsorship would all be nice. But if they can't be got, then we may have to do it ourselves. Those of us who go to Sidmouth only once a decade should be willing to put our hands in our pockets, to ensure that the festival will still be there next time we fancy attending it.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 May 04 - 05:19 PM

I agree that Sidmouth is very special.

It is far from perfect and main reason it is not, is the constant uncertainty of its future. The town, organisers and all of us deserve better than this uncertainty and division. It seems like a constant feature almost every year

If it matters, I have nothing against Mrs Casey, other than than this uncertainty. This is clear if you take the time to read the whole of this thread. I tend to view festival organisers like a football referee, if I am not aware of them, they must be doing a good job. But this job is to enable. We do not come to admire the referee and if any referee expects anything other than abuse, they are in the wrong job.

Festival organisers should not expect abuse, they do not generally deserve this. However, we do not attend festivals because of them and they should not really expect our approval. Especially as in this case, the professional organisers have placed the festival's future in doubt. Their job is to enable it and if they cannot or are not willing to manage this - they should expect a little flak. I suspect that they do expect this, even if some of their loyal supporters appear to think they can do no wrong. None of us are perfect.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 19 May 04 - 05:31 PM

Mike of Northumbria - Well, there is an organisation called the Friends of Sidmouth. Who were supposed to have provided someone to collect money, in an official collecting tin, at the events in the garden of the Volunteer, including the one I ran on the Monday evening last year that you attended and sang at. An interesting question is, what are the Friends of Sidmouth doing to ensure the continuing viability of the festival and how could they be helped to do more.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,onyirtodd
Date: 19 May 04 - 06:50 PM

couple of points

1) the difficulty in running an organistion is = to the square of the distance in miles between the event and the organisers. Running Sidmouth from Matlock is (and always will be) a harder task than it need be.

2) If you are selling out your season tickets and still carrying an operating loss you have failed to grasp 1st year undergraduate supply/ demand economics.

4) If it is truly the case that the festival contributes £5M to the local businesses and you've let them keep it all, I'd be reluctant to underwrite you for the cost of a pint.

5) If you MUST write begging press releases, employ someone who knows how to do it.

There's more to running a festival than being nice guys who REALLY care about the music. Glasgow and Edinburgh (both, I submit) a bit bigger in all respects than Sidmouth haven't run a proper folk festival for many years; mainly because they didn't know how to do it.

Onny


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 19 May 04 - 07:18 PM

I've just re read some earlier bits of this thread = glad it is now moving away from where it was and focussing on some real issues!

Shambles you often 'get me going' you are putting out some good stuff!

Would everyone please note (now I'm gogin to be a condescending patronisong little sod)
What is really said in the press release and the info that Kevin S gave us and spot the politics and brinksmanship!

I think Mrs Casey are doing a good job - are calling the bluff of many folk - and if we (they) were the English National Opera some one would have thrown a few million at them by now let alone 200K!

I'm off to bed just been through half a bottle of wine and a good potion of port to finsh off need bed and sleep to prepare for Yorkshire - Selby at the weekend.

hugs all round again

A
XX


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 20 May 04 - 02:39 AM

I believe Tony Day is looking into the Friends of Sidmouth line.I believe some of the fringe parts will go on with or with out Sidmouth especially MBS in The Anchor.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: s&r
Date: 20 May 04 - 05:50 AM

It isn't necessarily hard to organise a festival at a distance - most bookings of artists and venues would be post/phone/email etc. During the festival, the organisers or their representatives need to be on site, as I believe they are. Out of interest, how and where was it organised in the days of EFDSS management?

The contribution of a festival to the local economy is a complex calculation, but a report outlining the benefits was produced for the AFO and can be seen here and is well worth studying.

The Fringe events IMO would die a death rapidly without the umbrella of the Festival proper.

Stu (who prefers Cambridge, but supports the need for Sidmouth to continue)


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Amos
Date: 20 May 04 - 02:22 PM

Thanks, s&r.

A


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 May 04 - 09:58 PM

It seems to me that, while it is perfectly possible to organise things from a distance, and it's been done remarlkably well in this case, a local continuing presence is a very important element indeed in helping people and organisations locally see the event as in some sense their event and not something they've been lumbered with by a bunch of outsiders.

It's always struck me as a bit dangerous that, in between festivals, it appears that folk music pretty well dies out in Sidmouth - in contrast to Whitby or Fylde, and most other festivals I have come across. I know there's the Middle Bar Reunion, but so far as I am aware there is no kind of local folk club.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 21 May 04 - 04:08 AM

Interesting McG

Sidmouth has the highest average age in the country, or did have, how then did the festival end up there in the first place?

This age parameter could also lead to some antagonism just by all these young folk being here. Why I don't know.

As to the rest I don't know.

A


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 May 04 - 12:55 PM

The Fringe events IMO would die a death rapidly without the umbrella of the Festival proper.

I am not sure that folk who express this view, which appears on the surface to be a common sense one, really understand the nature of fringe events and the Sidmouth finge events in particular. The relationship between the festival proper is really not a very close one and has become even more distant over recent years.

It is pretty obvious that there would be less people in total available to attend fringe activities, but that these events would die rapidly, should the official event end, is less sure. Perhaps a view on this, from a Middle Bar Singers attendee or a seafront regular would be useful?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 21 May 04 - 03:16 PM

Well, I'm pretty sure we'd lose the Theatre Bar singarounds, which is where the official festival and fringe meet. I can't think of any other venues that would be quiet enough for singers who aren't very confident, or sufficiently smoke-free for asthma sufferers. I'm not sure that I'd want to spend lunchtimes and evenings in the Middle Bar for a whole week, either.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 21 May 04 - 03:22 PM

I probably should have pointed out that I go to Sidmouth the day before the festival starts, so that I can sing in the Middle Bar before it gets really crowded and noisy, and that I also usually drop in there on some evenings during the festival.

I wonder what would happen to Rosy's evening session in the Royal York & Faulkner if there was no official festival. Again, that's really for confident singers including booked festival artists and visiting semi-pros.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Adrianl
Date: 21 May 04 - 05:40 PM

I think there are a lot of people like me who will drop into the Middle Bar and other sessions for a couple of hours because we are there but I doubt would travel to Sidmouth if the rest of the festival was not on.

Adrian


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 May 04 - 07:53 PM

For the past four years I have spent almost all of the festival assisting in hosting the sessions in one of the non-official town venues. I do this because I really love performing and audienting at these informal sessions. Having read all the postings on this subject, it seems to me that one point, and only one point, has direct relevance to the continued life of this, and other, cultural events. When something like this happens, we all start to discuss it, and we end up disagreeing, and slagging each other off. If we put the same energy into telling those ******* at Whitehall that they had damn well better start supporting arts and culture, we probably would not have these problems. So why can we never get enough people to stand up and shout at the real villains of the piece, who don't want British Culture, and tradition, because they plan for us all to become good little Europeans very soon. The only thing that scares a politician, is realising that there are enough upset constituents, potentially to overturn his majority. Time we organised a few good frights, don't you think?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 May 04 - 02:00 AM

So why can we never get enough people to stand up and shout at the real villains of the piece, who don't want British Culture, and tradition, because they plan for us all to become good little Europeans very soon.

The answer is that we can. We did manage to get 110,000 people to sign a E petition telling our current Government just that. This was very effective but sadly we still cannot get together enough to prevent local authorities from claiming that the law means they must continue to prevent sessions. But that IS another story, but a similar one.

Update on the Palm sesh

We do a very good job of fighting each other and not fighting together to tackle the root causes. In the face of a real threat, we seem to be able to find many good reasons to do nothing and many ways to advise others why doing nothing at all, except in fighting, is the best option. In case we make things worse……Back to Sidmouth.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 May 04 - 04:12 PM

There is an English disease involving embarrassment and over regulation, together with tight-fistedness when it comes to providing support for events like Sidmouth. And there are worries soem people have about the European Union. But they aren't to be packaged together. I see that as a thread drift too far.

There is no way that the troubles of Sidmouth can be blamed on Brussels bureaucrats. Many other parts of our continent seem to be much more relaxed and helpful about this kind of event. If only England could learn from the example of Ireland in these matters, we'd be a lot better off musically and culturally.

Once again, I'd urge that most of the non-ticket events at Sidmouth should not be seen as "fringe", they are very much part of the festival, and a central part too.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Guest (Victoria)
Date: 22 May 04 - 05:05 PM

A few thoughts having read this thread with interest.

For me, Sidmouth lost its charm when the current management took over and stopped inviting the majority of English Folk teams, and subsequently dropped folk from the title. I would be disappointed if it finished but I don't feel any strong compunction to save it myself.

This year will be a good festival - and if it is the last it will go out with a bang, which is much better than limping on into obscurity. Nevertheless, I'd remember it from 15 years ago not from the last 2 years when I've been again.

However, clearly there are many people out there for whom the magic is still very much there which is great. Go out there and put your money where your mouths are, or lobby those with deeper pockets. The trust idea sounds good, as does the idea of wet weather contingencies, particularly for the Arena. Keep them coming and pass them on to MrsC, who I'm sure would be glad of more brains working on the problems.

Although not directly relevant as it was some way up the thread, on the subject of cars on the campsite: at Chippenham Folk Festival they ban car movement on site in wet years. You are allowed to tow your caravan on (or drive on to unload) but then must stay there. If you need your car during the week - because you have kit to get to events, need to leave the area, use a wheelchair, etc - you have to drive it off site and park elsewhere. Seems to work fine there. The distances are similar, as is the hill through town...

Would it be Simouth if it was in a different location?!


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Seaking
Date: 22 May 04 - 10:21 PM

I've been going to Sidmouth since 1997 and for me it's got better each year as I do more and get involved in more each time I go. I buy season and camping tickets for myself and the two children which I regard as good value for what we get over eight days. We do everything from Arena concerts, LNE, singarounds, harmony workshops, Kid's festival, Middle Bar, Singing in the Sea, open stage, - you name it, we've probably tried it, taking in the total Festival experience, official and fringe. Come monsoon or heatwave, Sidmouth is a unique experience, it's whole greater than the sum of it's parts which for me is it's secret, and I for one would mourn it's passing in any other (i.e. lesser) form than already exists as I really doubt it could ever be replaced elsewhere.

We'll be there this year, I just hope it's not our last visit..


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 23 May 04 - 01:00 PM

And round and round and round and round and round and round and round
We just keep swimming round and round and round and round and round!


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 May 04 - 01:23 PM

Naah, fiddler - I've been going to Sidmouth for years, and I've never been in the sea.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 23 May 04 - 01:25 PM

Well I've read the lot with interest, all 162 or whatever of them, so time for me to do a posting!
Onny, have you never heard of Celtic Connections in Glasgow? It's into its 11th year now and didn't it win one of the big Folk Awards this year? Admittedly it's not like Sidmouth - well who would want to camp in January. Edinburgh had it's last folk Festival as EFF in Nov 1999, but we now have Ceilidh Culture, so things are getting going again, and we have MSPs who even sing folksongs in the Scottish Parliament!
English Jon, London is not the centre of the Universe: some of us even come all the way from Scotland for Sidmouth and I'm not the only one!
Transport: when Sidmouth festival first started there was still a railway - at least as far as Sidmouth Junction - until a certain Dr beeching came along!
Paying: I buy a season ticket as it allows me flexibilty and choice, I also put money in the tins, pay my fines at the Middle Bar and have contributed to the "Sidmouth Fiddler" Appeal. I still think it's great value for money, and appreciate all the hard work the organisers and stewards and MBS drivers, etc do.
Locals: my inlaws and many of their relatives are local. Some of them attend events in the festival, some don't. They used to know all the ruses for seeing things for free, e.g. peeping between the top of the bushes at the Knowle above the Arena, but it's harder to do this now thanks to needing passes to get into the knowle, and putting up high screens.
I would like Sidmouth to continue, as I agree, it's unique.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 23 May 04 - 02:54 PM

Somebody posted a query miles up the thread asking how EFDSS managed to run Sidmouth from a distance.

When I first went, they didn't, in those days they had an full time regional organiser based in Exeter who was responsible for running the festival. They also had the advantage that in those pre Glasnost days the east European dance teams, who brought in the paying punters in the arena, were heavily subsidised by their governments.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: s&r
Date: 23 May 04 - 04:46 PM

Didn't a wet week at Sidmouth virtually bankrupt EFDSS? I suppose half an hour or so away at Exeter is close, but I wonder nevertheless how much of the organising was still done by post and phone - most of it I would guess.

It may be that Sidmouth is the goose that lays the golden eggs for Mrs C, although I doubt it. It certainly wasn't at the time of EFDSS giving it up.

I like the idea of a contingency/emergency fund; and although I don't go to Sidmouth, I'd be quite willing to put my hand in my pocket to help cover a wet weather disaster. I've no idea how this could be organised though; I wouldn't wish to simply contribute to the running costs

Stu


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 24 May 04 - 08:47 AM

yup and if a trust was set up properly it could be used to cover other festivals too!

They would still need to pay a fee form membership of the trust but it would probably be much less than wet weather insurance!

Universities set up a schem similar to this years ago - it saved money hand over fist for a long time.

A


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 04 - 07:40 PM

When I first went there it was as a day tripper with two young children and did not find the whole thing child friendly enough to make me go back there for 10 years.
When I did return it was as a steward and the start and finish times of my shifts were really awkward so I didn't get to see much at all. I didn't feel that I got enough out of it to warant working there again.
Since then I have gone and done the fringe and paid to see what interested me. Paying £5 to go in to the festival market is outrageous so I go after 5pm when it's free. The traders can't be happy about the situation, I certainly wouldn't be. Last year I overheard one saying "It must be 5-o-clock we've got customers.
The whole ethos of Sidmouth comes across as being about taking money and greed on the part of the organisers. This may be wrong but that's how it appears.
I hope the festival survives but I do not find the season ticket value for money and will not be sobbing into a sodden tissue if it fails.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 27 May 04 - 10:09 AM

How about the fringe without the main event. Ahem... like at Bishop's Castle folk weekend 11th - 13th June.

8-)

Sal


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Cllr
Date: 27 May 04 - 10:13 AM

I put this on a new thread but possibly more people will see it here

I found this on an official leaflet in my local music shop (Bedroom Acoustic music Ampthill)
"BB2 radio 2 Young folk Awards 2004/5 you could win a performance at Sidmouth festival 2005 and Cambridge Folk festival. Well thats alright then. problem over.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jun 04 - 11:05 AM

Could the local council elections change everything?
Could Sidmouth be saved by a change of councillers?
Which Local goverment authority dose Sidmouth come under and who now controls it?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Cllr at work
Date: 11 Jun 04 - 11:40 AM

guest

a) No, as the decision about the festival is still with Mrs casey's music.
b) Sidmouth festival is not under threat from councillors See below
c) East Devon Conservative.


I posted this under a different thread but no one responded I will repeat here to see if there is any response.

Hmmm, I have spoken to some people (cllrs) down there (and more on that in later posts) and the issues which are disparagingly called "political" in this case are not necessarily left or right. But the disposal of public money is quite rightly a political issue. The actual argument of festival continuation is either down to funding from the council or over Mrs Casey willingness to continue it as a business proposition, if they don't want to do it no amount of debate over funding issues will change the bottom line.

. My own take on the " political" situation is this.
Responsible politicians should not hand over the best part of Sixty thousand pounds without checking or seen to be checking what is being done with the money. The council have not said the funding is to be withdrawn just that they want to scrutinise the way it is used.
It is not for local councils to support private businesses and unless it can demonstrate to auditors, inspectors, and the voting public that it is a a valid use of tax payers money they could be accused of maladministration.

The provision of a survey from the interested party is not enough especially as to my knowledge it does not address the issue of how much money would enter into the local economy by tourism at the height of the holiday season regardless of whether the festival is there or not. Invisible earnings from tourism are always difficult to quantify at the best of times. While the council have a duty to promote tourism and the local economy it is not a statutory duty and any promotion or fiduciary help should be carefully monitored in the public interest. There has been increasing pressure on councils from this government to realise full market value from any of its assets including monies from hiring rent etc The charity commission has also gone down this route as well.

The amount of money that the festival brings in to the area is substantial but the direction in which it flows is not I.e., publicans, hotels, supermarkets have a bonanza but the detail of what they put into the festival or local economy is not readily available. The argument of advance ticket sales not covering the cost of the festival has been simplified to such an extent that it is difficult to have a serious public debate. The lack of transparency is not just due to sensitive commercial issues, which I think is understandable, but also due to the lack of quantifiable evidence.

If one excepts the rational that advance ticket sales only covers half a million which means that if we assume £150 per ticket and £50 camping that only 2500 are available (ok figures are approx and don't take into account the variations but you get the drift) This means if the other figures are to be believed that the other 37,500 that attend only buy enough tickets to raise around another quarter of a million. I realise this does not seem to make sense but at the level of public debate this is all the info we have available. Note that also, this year the attendance is reckoned to increase from 40,000 to over 60,000

We have a microcosm of the festival writ small in the middle bar every year. Usually a local tries to talk over the singers quoting "it's my bar, I drink here all the time, bloody folkies have you heard the latest ring tone where is my mobile phone" etc without realising (or more importantly) without wanting to accept the the festival enables Sidmouth to support so many drinking establishments. I read in the herald that one resident complained about the Maroons, that alert the inshore rescue crew, saying it should be banned as it frightens her dog. Local residents will have different views and just because they get published does not mean that is a majority view.


If the festival is to continue in anyway near it's present format, the way forward can only be debated properly when Mrs Casey's intentions become clear.Either they are seeking better conditions in which to operate and are hoping to continue or they are hoping to maintain the current situation or they are trying to disengage without seeming to be just abandoning the whole thing. If they pull out for ANY reason - financial- lack of funding, insurance costs, PRS, lack of profit or too much grief interference from council PEL whatever, then I would hope that Steve would want the festival to continue ( I do believe his heart is in the right place despite the intense criticism he and his organisation attracts) and at this point any interested parties Council/ Friends/MBS/shellbacks should be able to pick up the reigns without having to start over, so that renewing longstanding arrangements/partnerships/funding sources could be achieved. I'm not saying these things wouldn't change but a handover of any sort would be infinitely preferable to a start form scratch approach and more disconcertingly the only feasible way forward.

The complicating part of this, as if it needs anymore, is that the interested parties do not have a common goal, by that I mean while everybody (or most) thinks the festival is "a good thing" there are many differing views on what format it should take. The old joke about How many folkies does it take to change a light bulb? exemplifies the disparity of views that can be held within the folk scene itself and this division or divisions do not aid in coming forward with at best a continuation of the festival at worst a rescue package solution. As I have already mentioned the prerequisite for debate around change still lies with Mr Heap which should become clear(er) in the immediate future.

I love the festival and one day I hope to move to sidmouth as I love the place all year round. I have offered whatever assistance I can to certain parties which I hope will be taken seriously. As a politician "who makes his living from it" and as a folkie event organiser and performer I feel I do have a better chance of understanding of the issues and the positions being taken, but the demonisation of any of the parties folk, fringe, Steve Heap, politicians, residents and local business does not forward the debate. I discovered my love of unaccompanied singing in the middle bar and I want to continue for another fifty years.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 15 Jun 04 - 03:08 PM

Apparently not the last - this message has been sent to Anchor Middle Bar Singers by Chris Cook of Great Western Morris:

Basically, after last night's meeting, there is definitely going to be a Festival next year. There is a working party (made up of EDDC members) looking into funding. EDDC will only put in 60,000 quid. The financial report is to be published (probably an edited version). There will be a further meeting for people interested in, and with ideas for, next year's festival.
SO, let everyone know that there will be a festival next year.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Dave Masterson
Date: 09 Jul 04 - 04:56 AM

Eileen and I were in Sidmouth last week and got into conversation with a local shopkeeper who happens to be a folkie. He said the locals have got fed up with the way the festival has gone. He told us stories of last year dance teams not being allowed to dance on the seafront, and of 'bouncers' being on the doors of marquees used by the foreign teams to practice, to stop people looking in. The only assumption one can make is that the mentality behind this is 'if you want to look, you can pay'.
He stressed that the Sidmouth residents love the festival, but hate the way it's being run at the moment. They'd like to see it return to way it was 10 or more years ago.
If these stories are true, then the sooner the present organisers move on the better.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: fiddler
Date: 09 Jul 04 - 06:37 PM

Well I was there last year and many previous years and the story I would say is B*LL*X!

Sorry,

The festival employs security to keep safe the festival - PA that walks etc.....

I know dancers who danced on the sea front, I walked along it many times and there was lots of music.

Duplicity is easy - when you are backed in to a corner come out fighting and let the truth take second place to myth and legend!!!!!

Teh festivla is not perfect but neither are Sidmouth Council or residents as some of the posts in this thread have shown. Lets all not be too gullible and hope for the best.

Andy


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 09 Jul 04 - 06:53 PM

I have resisted joining in this debate, but I do think that the local that Dave Masterson quotes is a step too far......just 'cos someone says it is true, does not mean it is so.

I was only able to get there for part of the week last year but I saw plenty of teams dancing around both the sea front and other places, and I am sure that my dancing friends would have told me if the traditional Sunday Morris had not taken place. So the local folkie does need to quote chapter and verse of how dance teams were banned -for example - if the police/traffic wardens banned them then this was hardly the fault of the festival.......I cannot see how Mrs. Casey can possibly stop teams dancing where they are allowed to by the local authority. How precisely did the Festival organisers do this?

As for bouncers stopping watching rehearsals....I have danced all over the world see http://www.citymorris.f9.co.uk/International.htm ....and it is not unusual to stop people entering a venues during rehearsals.....in the same way that venues are closed during sound checks. It is a rehearsal/sound check after all.......

As for the phrase "The only assumption one can make is that the mentality behind this is 'if you want to look, you can pay', I reckon there is some pretty good free entertainment to be had for the cost of living in Sidmouth (camping/b and b/hired cottage) for a few days during the first week in August. Anchor Garden Ceilidhs are free for example.....buskers are free, sessions in the Bedford, Radway, Middle Bar Singers...need I really go on? People tell me it is possible to do these without even buying a beer...........

It is easy to criticise the festival for its size. The first complaint about it getting too big according to the historian of the festival was 1957, and there was at least one other in the early 70's published in the EFDSS magazine.

The suggestion to go back to ten years ago is clearly a reference to the days when the EFDSS ran the festival. Ask them to take over. Ask anyone in fact....

The answer will be not without guarantees against loss due to the weather..bit like Mrs. Casey really.

Best regards,

Dave Eyre
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 05:02 AM

Sensible words Dave.

Just to add that the quote about going back 10years "may" have been a hark back to the EFDSS days, but I've been involved in the festival for the last 18 years and it's been Mrs Casey not the EFDSS in all that time.

Too many people take one person's bit of hearsay as truth.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 06:53 AM

I have never been to Sidmouth as I can't afford it therfore i vote with my wallet. There was a similar kerfufle at Beverley a couple of years ago, Mudcat organised a mini festival that went back to basics and worked, the highly organised festival returned the year after and included the back to basics festival.
I have not read the thread but I suspect the festival pumps a huge amount of money into the local economy but the local econonmy does not repay anything back into the festival.
A couple of years ago (again) bloody mindlessness meant that the regatta at Whitby clashed with the folk festival and the only loosers was the local economy I wonder if they will do it again?
Remember they all like our money but they dont like folkies.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Adrianl
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 07:43 AM

This has been posted on umf, I don't think it has been posted here.

Sidmouth site

Gives some insight both ways about views and local politics in Sidmouth.

Adrian


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 05:19 PM

You just can't please all of the people all of the time.

When the festival was small, most of it happened in a small area of the town. The dance displays were along the Esplanade, in the Market Square and in the Blackmore and Connaught Gardens. Singing events were in various places but the Late Night Extra was in the Drill Hall. Morris workshops, tea dances and concerts were held in the Ham Marquee.

There came a point when various factors, including complaints from locals about the noise, led to the move of dance displays to the Knowle Arena, and of the LNE out of town.

Now that the festival is based on the Knowle site, some town traders feel that they're not benefiting financially. I'm not sure why, because lots of people still turn up to do the fringe in town.

I think dancing on the Esplanade was banned for a while for health and safety reasons, after a year when the beach was very low, and a dancer was injured falling off the wall.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 06:30 PM

A couple of years ago (again) bloody mindlessness meant that the regatta at Whitby clashed with the folk festival and the only loosers was the local economy I wonder if they will do it again?

I thought bloody mindedness and Yorkshiremen were synonymous.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,steve in sidmouth
Date: 11 Jul 04 - 03:09 PM

A comprehensive set of background material on the situation in Sidmouth is available on my website www.seered.co.uk - just follow the link on the opening page. I am particularly interested to receive feedback on pages folk21.htm and folk22.htm discussing economic analysis of festivals. Some of the discussion on mudcat is interesting: I will summarize it when I have time.......


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 11 Jul 04 - 05:55 PM

Hi Steve of Sidmouth,

I have read your website through and it seems that you are generally supportive but sceptical.

However it does seem to me that the arguments you present on your site make the case for exclusion of festivals anywhere which are organised in the way that Sidmouth is. By that I mean organised so that the potential audience can buy a "season" ticket of some sort or other, and/or opt into events that attract them. They purchase accommodation locally as to their own finances and income. This exclusion would include for example the Edinburgh International Festival and the Haye-on-Wye Book Festival.

It also makes an argument for the end of event-led tourism of that type which would include film festivals, many sporting events including the Olympics and so on.......

It does make an argument for festivals to be held in a secure site as Glastonbury and other large rock concerts are - for EDDC would then show a clear and measurable profit, they would be able to charge a promoter for the use of an arena which belongs to them, and charge a brewery or take a percentage of the profits etc. etc. handing over the organisation to a promoter. Costs could be estimated and measured against this charge. It may be that Sidmouth would not be a suitable venue for such a festival and thus the whole thing closes - as it may yet do of course. It may be that such a festival is not attractive to the current audience.

The festival would clearly then become a wholly commercial event - and EDDC may or may not show a profit depending on the skill of the promoter etc.

As far as the AFO reports are concerned, the research into audience profiles presented in the reports do confirm my own albeit anecdotal evidence of the audience that go to folk festivals - as anyone who goes to festivals will confirm that ABC1's (as they are wrongly called) are by far the largest social group. Indeed the cost of attendance at Sidmouth means you must have a decent family income to simply pay for the tickets, never mind incidental expenditure.

Finally the figures that are quoted as to economic benefits sometimes (I would guess) include an economic "multiplier" which accounts for the wildly differing figures.

Best regards,

Dave Eyre
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk

PS. Any relation to the guy who invented the Apple computer?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,steve in sidmouth
Date: 11 Jul 04 - 06:38 PM

Thank you Dave, for thoughtful comments. I sent you an email about three minutes ago suggesting you look at my site....you beat me to it. I am highly supportive of the festival as an event in Sidmouth - it is one reason why I moved here (so did several people I know).

I'll reply later on the economics - this is a hurried reply just for now. My principal gripe is with people accepting whatever figures are thrown into the air and basing policy on them. I have worked with economists so know a little about the subject - the AFO report is just so insubstantial, as are figures used by EDDC.

The festival should not in my view have to 'make a profit' and Sidmouth should be very glad it has such an event in town (profit from it or not in narrow financial terms).What is wrong is the model, whereby it is presently excluded from (say) Arts Council funding because it is run as a business.

I put the webpages together so people could get a much better idea of how things were viewed down here, instead of just reading the national press. The argument about traders not making a lot out of the festival has been going on for years - some do, some don't but you need firm figures and some logic on which to base arguments and these have been sadly lacking from Council debate.

My preferred model would be for EDDC just to 'give' the use of land etc much as now and keep out of the organising as much as possible. Arts Council and/or a commercial sponsor would be needed unless perhaps some money could be saved by altering the structure to reduce costs without affecting the income too much.

More later.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 12 Jul 04 - 04:08 AM

Hi Steve,

I would imagine that any model that would avoid the present conflict with people whether they be local Sidmouth residents or those who feel they could organise the festival better/smaller/larger/differently is that I am it has been well explored by the current organisers. In particular I would imagine that most avenues of funding have been explored fully.

I am not sure how the organisation and structure of the festival - and I am glad to have it explained to me - precludes Arts Council or any other grants, though it certainly seems to do so. Organisations such as the Royal Opera House, Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Ballet seem to attact grants and seem to be run as businesses, albeit nothing like as succesfully as Sidmouth International Festival.

Perhaps it should become the Royal Sidmouth Festival?

Dave
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 12 Jul 04 - 04:23 AM

First paragraph should read "I am sure".....

Dave


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Steve in Sidmouth (www.seered.co.uk)
Date: 12 Jul 04 - 06:08 AM

Dave: Good question - thanks for the prompt - I'll put some more explanation on my website. Five minutes work on google and in the chariy commission website brought up all three of the organisations you mentioned and the OBJECTS of the main or subsidiary charities are as follows - lifted from the CC website. People in the folk world are already looking into a similar arrangement for Sidmouth - but without the Royal, maybe?? The present arrangement (as a professionally run business)prevents Arts Council funding : see my page folk18.htm (so far as I recall it is 18) for a brief discussion.

ROYAL OPERA HOUSE.::TO PROMOTE AND ASSIST IN THE ADVANCEMENT OF EDUCATION SO FAR AS SUCH PROMOTION AND ASSISTANCE SHALL BE OF A CHARITABLE NATURE AND IN PARTICULAR, TO RAISE THE ARTISTIC TASTE OF THE COUNTRY, AND TO PROCURE AND INCREASE THE APPRECIATION AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE MUSICAL ART IN ALL ITS FORMS. (SEE MEMORANDUM AND ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION

ROYAL SHAKESPEARE.:: TO KEEP ALIVE THE MEMORY OF SHAKESPEARE BY THE PRESENTATION OF HIS PLAYS. (SEE ALSO ARTICLE II OF THE CHARTER OF INCORPORATION).

ROYAL BALLET (SCHOOL).:: THE PRIMARY OBJECT IS TO CONDUCT AND MAINTAIN THE SCHOOL IN ALL RESPECTS AS A CHARITY, AND TO APPLY THE PROPERTY AND INCOME OF THE SCHOOL FOR CHARITABLE PURPOSES ONLY. FURTHER OBJECTS ARE (I) TO CONDUCT A SCHOOL FOR THE EDUCATION OF BOYS AND GIRLS IN THE BALLET, AND FOR PROVIDING SCHOLASTIC EDUCATION FOR SUCH OF THE SAID BOYS AND GIRLS AS ARE BY LAW REQUIRED TO RECEIVE SUCH EDUCATION; (II) TO RECEIVE, EDUCATE AND TRAIN STUDENTS IN BALLET, DRAMA, DANCING, SINGING, MUSIC AND OTHER ARTS. (FOR FULL DETAILS SEE CLAUSE 4 OF MEMORANDUM OF ASSOCIATION)


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 12 Jul 04 - 06:02 PM

I can't justify buying a week ticket because I do not attend things in Sidmouth which require tickets, and I might only be there for a day or two.

I sing in the various venues, play on the promenade, avoid the louder events because I can't stand the noise. I did go to arena events for many years but I found I needed to take ear defenders in order to take it down below my pain threashold, so I stopped going.

I have not been able to go for a whole week for the last 25 years, so I go where I do not need a ticket and find that I can fill my time quite easily.

I do take money with me to spend, but almost always come home with most of it. Since people have been burning their own cds I have managed to spend a bit more, and got some good music. I think the problem is that the things for sale are not what I want to buy - I always go and look around the stands and stalls in the area around the arena, but it is very rare that I see anything I want. I have asked for things like a particular type of capo or a replacement drum skin, but not found them.

Perhaps if there was something I could spend my money on and have it go towards the running of the festival it would not be in such difficulties - there might be many more people like me who carry money around ready to hand it over and find no reason to do so. The rest of my family are not interested in folk music, and I have to insist that I go, and justify what I spend.
Anne


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 15 Jul 04 - 10:34 AM

There's a rumour going around that Sidmouth already has some funding for next year, is this correct?

Sal


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Bob H
Date: 15 Jul 04 - 01:12 PM

Steve (from Sidmouth) states that Sidmouth can't get funding because its run as business. How is "run as a business" defined?

Sidmouth is a structured as a company limited by guarantee (not by shares) and is therefore non-profit making. The running of the festival is contracted out to Mrs Casey Music. This arrangement is very common in the arts so I don't see how it can exclude funding. If there was good financial reasons to change it I'm sure Steve would do! Am I missing something?

Then there is The Freinds of Sidmouth Festival who are are registered charity...


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Kate
Date: 15 Jul 04 - 02:03 PM

I've followed this thread for a while and have been interested in what people have to say about the festival. I feel moved to add my own thoughts as the festival's been so influential to my life. Although I've been going since I was five (I'm now in my mid 20s) I have usually stuck to the fringe events. More recently I've stewarded, but this is the first year that I've treated myself to a full season ticket. I love seeing the performers along the seafront and going to the Anchor, the Volunteer and the other free fringe events. I've grown up with the Middle Bar Singers and have many good friends at the festival. But over the last few years of buying the odd day ticket and stewarding I've been able to go to the bigger events including the Late Night Extra and staying on the main camp site. What I really appreciate about the festival is that even now there are things there that I enjoy. As a child the festival was magical, even when we didn't have that much money to go to the paying events. I expect if I'm lucky and the festival is still going when I'm elderly I'll find things there for me then as well. I'd be gutted if the festival stopped. I know there are problems that go hand in hand with its size but that also provides the amazingly wide selection of things to do. Where else is there such a thriving fringe festival along side such a diverse festival. Maybe its not to everyones tastes but there are plenty of other small quality festivals and this in its own right is a great event. I also know that it is extremely expensive and I feel very fortunate that I can afford a ticket this year. It deffinately hurt handing over my credit card number but if you consider it's for a whole week and compare it to other events of it size its pretty comparable. Again there is also plenty to enjoy free on the fringes. I expect the management will have to find a very different way of working- Steve in Sidmouth described how the Royal Opera House, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Ballet School all play an added educational role (maybe that's an idea for Sidmouth?) I really hope that they'll be able to save it.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 15 Jul 04 - 03:01 PM

Sidmouth already has a full programme of workshops that are far more diverse than anything the above-mentioned institutions can provide.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 15 Jul 04 - 04:58 PM

Well it's St Swithin's day and it hasn't rained yet here today (Edinburgh 9.45.p.m.) so let's hope it hasn't in Sidmouth, and that'll be a good omen for the future.
I am married to a Sidmouthian who is not really that bothered about the Festival, but doesn't mind if I go. I would be very upset if there were no more festival. I still feel a week's season ticket is amazing value for money (=approx 3 or 4 premier football matches, 6-8 hours worth as opposed to the whole week!)and wish more festivals would adopt the practice of having an all-events pass. I also attend alot of "fringe"/free events. Having just been to a festival elsewhere where the local traders did put in a lot of sponsorship, I think this should be actively sought out from those who currently benefit from their increased trade during the festival week (some of whom do contribute, but not enough of them)
TB


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Bob H
Date: 15 Jul 04 - 07:08 PM

Sponsorship of the local traders has been actively ought for many years to no avail. Well, if they won't feed the goose that lays the golden egg....


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Steve in Sidmouth
Date: 16 Jul 04 - 05:41 PM

If there is any news locally I will post it, but chances are I may be the last to know (after all, I only live here!). Latest news as I know it will be on www.seered.co.uk/folk24.htm
together with local weather (don't believe the regional forecasts, we can have ten lots of weather in Devon and Cornwall at the same time). The funding problem is mentioned on /folk18.htm of the same website - basically it is a matter of the festival itself being run as a business that precludes Arts Council funding - so I have been told.

Most folkies want the festival to continue but the number of locals who are keen to the point of actually wanting to help is very low, the number of anti-festival locals is quite sizeable and the overall fraction of apathetic locals is about 93%. The topic has dropped out of the local paper completely - we are back to shock horror stories of a few weeds spoiling the town for Britain in Bloom - www.seered.co.uk/bloomers.htm


P.S. Anyone interested in hiring an old caravan for the week? I could tow it to the site and pitch it for you, all you have to do is live in it. Fee by negotiation but you would have to agree with Festival that you would be, in effect, bringing a caravan which at this late stage may not be possible as spaces on site have to be reserved at time of ordering ticket, so I believe. One double bed (quite comfy) but no equipment of any type.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Jul 04 - 06:10 PM

Most folkies want the festival to continue but the number of locals who are keen to the point of actually wanting to help is very low, the number of anti-festival locals is quite sizeable and the overall fraction of apathetic locals is about 93%.

Below the belt Steve!!:-)>

Carefully conducted survey? Number of people questioned? Total responses? Any close focus groups? Social class of correspondents? Date of survey? All these are quoted in the AFO report.

I am sure you would not wish to bandy figures about without factual support!! :-)>

Dave Eyre
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Jul 04 - 06:14 PM

I ought to have made it plain that the first two lines of that last post were a quotation form Steve's previous post!!

Dave


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 16 Jul 04 - 06:19 PM

Steve in Sidmouth.

Can you please email me with the terms for your caravan: countessrichard@yahoo.co.uk


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Jul 04 - 06:33 PM


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Jul 04 - 06:39 PM

Steve....

Your link from folk18 is a bit disparaging about the MHM report.
The size and track record of MHM we can argue about but.....

These reports are based on an independent research study undertaken by Morris Hargreaves McIntyre. 4,294 adult festival goers completed short questionnaires at a range of six different folk festivals in England during July, August and September 2002. A further representative, weighted sample of 450 of these adults then completed long questionnaires during October 2002. A sample of these respondents then attended focus group discussions in December 2002. Market size data was calculated from attendance records gathered by the Association of Festival Organisers.........

looks like carefully constructed sampling and data collection to me.

Dave Eyre
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 16 Jul 04 - 06:56 PM

My mother-in-law has just sent on a "Sidmouth Herald" (9.07.04.) from which it appears that the town Council want to be "thoroughly involved" in any discussion re the festival's future.
"Apres le deluge, mes amis?" ...easy to be wise after the event!
It made approx 20% of page coverage on page 5 of the paper, while page 1 is given over almost entirely to"No thanks to farmers' market".
Priorities,eh?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Steve in Sidmouth
Date: 16 Jul 04 - 07:43 PM

I can assure you that the wish on the part of the Town Council to be 'thoroughly involved' with any future festival could be more of a threat than a promise - "we want far more say in what goes on in OUR TOWN" - unquote.

In the past there has been much feeling that "Steve Heap Inc" have 'taken over' Sidmouth (about time someone did!?!) and some people (no names) want more CONTROL for themselves. Now if I told you that the Town Council has a strong body of shopkeepers (who didn't want the proposed farmers' market because it would be competition) and who for years have objected to the food and drink stalls in the Arena because they want all the trade in their shops, you might get the general drift.

But don't say I told you, please. I have to live here remember? The hot news at the moment is that a small area of land with WEEDS is to be tarmacadamed so that nothing whatever can grow on it. It's all part of Sidmouth's drive towards environmental purity, and weeds are DISGUSTING. Ask any butterfly.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 17 Jul 04 - 04:57 AM

"the food and drink stalls in the Arena because they want all the trade in their shops..."

Whenever I need food during festival (and I confess there is more demand on my part for drink) the shops invariably have long queues.

And because of the desire to see events my demands are often made at non-traditional moments so it isn't just going when everyone else does.

If the food and drink sales came from the arena and into Sidmouth how on earth would they serve us all? Perhaps we would then give up and go for a pint and then have another pint and then we are drinking on an empty stomach and might be sick all over the newly tarmaced land and get blamed for being drunks whereas it is really all due to the Town Council....and shopkeepers.....

Best regards,

Dave


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Steve in Sidmouth
Date: 17 Jul 04 - 05:38 PM

I've lived in Sidmouth for over seven years. I've been a councillor and I know probably more than many people what goes on hereabouts.

For the record, the town meeting was attended by about 80 people over 60 of whom were from Sidmouth or the immediate locality. Fifteen left their names with the Town Clerk as being interested in assisting the festival if they could - and some of these were from outside Sidmouth. A survey undertaken in the local Sidmouth Herald in the weeks before the meeting produced a 2:1 vote in favour of retaining a festival - in round figures 200 votes for and 100 against, out of a population of around 13,000. The circulation of the Herald is over 7000 copies per week - in two weeks 14,000 forms would have been available to be returned.

The 'return rate' of only 300 out of 14,000 is about par for the course in marketing terms (most 'junk mail' never even gets read let alone acted upon).

I hope that helps. My own view is that if the festival is 'saved' it will primarily be people from outside of Sidmouth who will take the lead. I would guess a handful from Sidmouth would be prepared to really give some time and effort.

As for the AFO report, I have far more to say about the conclusions drawn from the sample than about the methods of sampling which as you say may be broadly OK. See www.seered.co.uk/folk22.htm and the preceding page (/folk21.htm).

The argument in Sidmouth has raged for years - how much do locals who pay council tax actually get back from the festival? My method of analysis would suggest perhaps very little - it is a challenge to others and so far there has been no comment of any significance. Maybe EDDC and others have gone to ground?

I agree on the food and drink angle. The shops in town can hardly cope with the demands now, they would be swamped if they became the sole providers of sustenance but this has not prevented yearly carps about stalls "taking trade away from town shops" .


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 18 Jul 04 - 04:05 AM

Do the town traders ever think of applying for concessions at the Festival? Of course there are some stalls they couldn't provide (Mexican hammocks, accordions etc).


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Bob H
Date: 18 Jul 04 - 02:20 PM

Some local traders have gone to the arena in the past. Puddleducks, the toy shop, did for a while then stopped for some reson. The concession fees may be a problem for them - and I suspect that having to split the business, take on extra staff and so on at a time when they are super-busy anyway means there is little if any benefit.

Bob


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Steve in Sidmouth
Date: 18 Jul 04 - 05:13 PM

I think Bob H sums it up well. I knew an out-of-town girl who ran a hat stall, she gave it up because of the high fees charged for a few square metres of space. One of the biggest losses in my view was the large bookstall that ceased a few years ago - I met a few interesting people there. OK, I admit it, a few interesting women.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 18 Jul 04 - 08:12 PM

Why do you think I do second -hand folk books?


Dave


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 11:58 AM

Linda & I should be around for some of the time. I hope to make it to the middle bar session - I was involved in starting it about 27 years ago !


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 09:07 PM

Dave,
MBS is 25 years old this year.Tony Day has Sweatshirts and a book written about the history of the MB.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 20 Jul 04 - 04:30 AM

Tony (I am the Music Man) Day didn't start the MBS, it was going several years before he got involved with it - he agrees. He has done a wonderful job of keeping it going and helping to build it into the institution it has become.

The year we started it, every pub in Sidmouth was being taken over by musician's sessions. That year, both Fred Jordan and Mervin Vincent were at Sidmouth, and we (myself, Charley Yarwood, and I think Ken Stevens) wanted somewhere that we could run a singaround with them. We managed to find the middle bar - there was something happening in the front bar and of course a dance out in the garden. It caught on, and by the time Tony took over the organisation, was already well established.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,martin long mclong80@hotmail.com
Date: 20 Jul 04 - 06:03 AM

dear dave,i wont be able to judge at doom gloom & despondency as i cant get a ticket for the festival !!! see you at bromyard hopefully       martin


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 20 Jul 04 - 06:25 AM

We won't have tickets either - we only fairly recently decided that we could make it (Linda's son will be at scout camp). You shouldn't need a ticket for most of the sessions - just find somewhere to stay or camp. We'll probably be on a site in the direction of Seaton or Honiton and drive in each day. If you're interested, we'll let you know what we find.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jul 04 - 08:05 AM

These links may help with camping near Sidmouth

garden camping near sidmouth

sidmouth accommodation


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 20 Jul 04 - 08:49 AM

Thanks for that info Dave,it was interesting to read especially as i know Ken Stevens so well.I must give him a bell.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: *Laura*
Date: 20 Jul 04 - 04:08 PM

"It's in the wrong place. It's a pain in the neck for most people to get to"

It's not a pain in the neck for ME to get to! ANd lots of other people too. it's not in the wrong place - you are! Move to Devon if you're that concerned - cos Sidmouth ain't moving!

But I have to agree about the campsite - bollocks.

Laura xx


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 21 Jul 04 - 05:48 AM

Linda and I have managed to find room on a site at Harpford - just along towards Newton Poppleford from the Bowd. We shoud therefore be arriving Monday afternoon.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 21 Jul 04 - 06:10 AM

Looking forward to Sidmouth and hope there'll be a 51st.

Bob Conroy and Dan Milner will there 2 days.

Our schedule looks like this:

Saturday, 31 July
1430 - Ham Marquee - Concert with Doghouse Skiffle and Johnson Girls
1815 - Arts Centre - Concert "Port of New York" with Johnson Girls

Sunday, 1 August
1000 - Arts Centre - Talk "Irish Maritime Songs from 19th Century New York"
1715 - St Teresas - Guitar & Banjo Alternate Tunings w/ Martin Carthy
2030 - Volunteer Inn - "Evening of Song" w/ Bob Davenport, Roisin White, Rosie Stewart, Dan Quinn, Will Duke and Mary McNamara

We look forward to seeing any and all old Mudcat friends.

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 21 Jul 04 - 12:57 PM

Hi LB

I'm introducing your 18.15 Saturday event and looking forward to it. I remember enjoying the last time you were there with the JGs in the Rugby Club.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jul 04 - 04:33 PM

If I'd lost a lot of money in the down pour and needed to make sure that as many people came as possible to make up the short fall, I'd announce that this was the last festival, wouldn't you?


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jul 04 - 04:54 PM

See you Kevin!

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 22 Jul 04 - 04:55 PM

What happened to the Rugby Club involvement in the Festival? It didn't seem to figure last year other than using the pitch as car park, and I don't see it on the list of venues for this year either.
TB


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 22 Jul 04 - 10:51 PM

I was only at Sidmouth a couple of days last year and found a 'lets play tunes session' upstairs at the Rugby Club simply because I went to get a shower and someone was telling a friend about it - so much seems to be advertised by a board outside or found out just by happening to meet someone in the know - or half way doubtful.

Most of the time I get asked along by someone I have just met on the promenade, or told about another event at the end of another, or overhear the organiser of one event arranging to be at another - mobile phones are so useful that way.

Anne


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 23 Jul 04 - 05:37 AM

Venues tend to come and go in the official festival, for various reasons, but as regular Sidmouth goers know, all sorts of sessions pop up at the fringes. And sometimes become official in later years, or vice versa.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 23 Jul 04 - 01:30 PM

Just like too say to all the Mudcatters who will be at Sidders,enjoy yourself and let us all know how it all went.Due to my physical health i am unable to attend,but my thoughts are with you all and my memories of going to Sidders for 23 years will always be with me.
Safe journey and dont drink to much of the scrumpy.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 24 Jul 04 - 12:23 PM


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: GUEST,JKL
Date: 10 Aug 04 - 03:13 PM

As a Sidmouth Trader I would like to refute some of the posts here regarding lack of trade support.

Quite a few businesses including my own are members of the Festival Patron Scheme.
The majority of other businesses suport it in kind by offering a very happy & enthusiatic welcome to the festival goers.

Most of the businesses in Sidmouth are individualy owned and run
so they do not make as has been intimated large sums of money 75% of them are on some kind of income support.
Also you probably dont realise that we are one of the most highly charged areas in UK regarding council & business tax, even higher than some London Boroughs, they do not put up there prices for the festival these are the same year round because it is so expensive to live in this area.

And by the way THERE WILL BE 2005 Festival see:http://www.sidmouthfestival.org.uk/


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 10 Aug 04 - 03:32 PM

JKL

Thanks - I know you've been a friend of the festival for many years, and that there will hopefully be a festival, not just a series of fringe events next year.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Aug 04 - 04:34 PM

That "http://www.sidmouthfestival.org.uk/" link just won't work for me - neither in Firefox nor in Internet Explorer.

Best maybe to keep this discussion in the one thread which seems to be   51st Sidmouth festival


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 10 Aug 04 - 04:42 PM

it worked for me www.sidmouthfestival.org.uk


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 11 Aug 04 - 08:08 PM

Worked for me too, tho' not a lot on it yet: what is there has aleady been quoted on one of the Sidmouth threads.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Aug 04 - 09:02 PM

I think it might be better to just have the one Sidmouth thread about the future of the festival, with the other for the reviews and comments. It gets confusing when they start multiplying, PEL style.


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Subject: RE: 50th and last Sidmouth festival?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 10:17 AM

I was standing in a queue at the HSBC in Sidmouth when a local person came in and declared that she was paying her council tax for the festival. She isn't at all happy with it. Most of the locals hate coming home from work only to find nowhere to park their cars, not even outside their own houses!

Did I sell lemonade? Words fail me.

Did I sing in the Middle Bar? Yes, but I couldn't stay in there for long because I had panic attacks and claustrophobia. It's my age, you know!

Swam in the sea tho' didn't we Schantieman... and visited Beer, along the coast, to watch the moon rise.

Sal

#8-)


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