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UK: Folk21 & Regional Days

12 Jan 12 - 07:37 PM (#3289636)
Subject: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: George Papavgeris

We are a network of folk lovers whose aim is to help sustain and support a thriving "guest booking" folk club scene in the UK. The whole thing started with a blog post by John Richards on Damien Barber's website voicing his concerns that such clubs might die out with his generation, with a resulting loss of unique opportunities for folk lovers to hear new and established artists perform in an intimate setting. While the "top end" of the folk scene - festivals and large venues such as the biggest arts centres and theatres - is thriving with the resurgence of interest in folk, the "roots base" of the folk club gig circuit appears not to be sharing in that resurgence equally, with audiences dwindling for many, and several clubs closing in recent years. You can see John's full post here:

John's call found an enthusiastic response from across the whole spectrum of the folk scene and so folk21 was born. The group is open to anyone - organisers, would-be organisers, artists, agents and fans - to discuss the issues facing folk clubs, exchange ideas, tips and advice, and help build a thriving network for the future. We have a core focus/action group of volunteers, chaired by Pete Coe, who work to make the various initiatives happen.

Our first two initiatives to date have been:

a) Carrying out an Audience Survey at UK Festivals and online, to find out what people really think about folk clubs, and what might encourage more of them to cross the threshold. The results of the survey can be found here:

b) Producing a Best Practice Guide to help increase folk club audience numbers. Compiled by five Network members, the Guide reflects the audience feedback from the survey, with suggestions and ideas for building your club or venue audience. This is now open for comments and suggestions from the whole group. It is only the first edition and we welcome contributions of amendments and additions. The Guide can be seen here:

Our next, and biggest, initiative will be the organisation of Regional Days for organisers within a given geography, as an opportunity to meet and discuss best practice, share ideas and identify opportunities for collaboration. The agenda for such events will include items on joint advertising & promotion, combining mail lists, cross-promotion, cost sharing, relevant legislation, presenting a common front towards local government, alternative venues, house concerts, co-ordination of bookings to avoid clashes or take advantage of opportunities etc. Many of those Regional Days will be accompanied by Showcase Concerts enabling you to see new and developing artists from other regions alongside a main headline act.

The first of these will be the Yorkshire Regional Day, organised by Pete Coe and Jacey Bedford. Here is Jacey's invitation for the Yorkshire Regional Day:

"Yorkshire Regional Folk Networking Day

You are receiving this because you care about folk music. Are you
troubled by the diminishing folk club scene? Forty years ago there were
thousands of folk clubs in the North of England alone. Now we estimate
there are fewer than 300 in the whole country which regularly book guest
performers so...

Folk21 is organising a
Yorkshire Regional Folk Networking Day
And Evening Showcase Concert featuring Heretique and others to be announced. MC Pete Coe

Saturday 31st March
At The Music Room, Cleckheaton, BD19 3RR

Afternoon Networking begins at 2 p.m.
Panels include:
• Raising folk's profile regionally
• What makes a club a club? Share your good ideas with the panel •
Working with artists and agents • And this time - chiefly - YOURSELVES. Networking

Contact Jacey Bedford by email or on 01484 606230 for more info or to
book your free place


We're organising the first Folk21 regional day in Yorkshire on 31st March at the Music Room in Cleckheaton. This is an experiment (the first one always is) and deadlines are tight as we have to go to press with local advertising next week. If any established folk club performers wish to take part in the showcase concert in front of the club organiser/delegates please email Pete Coe ( Please note that participating performers must already be playing on the folk club circuit (either established or up-and-coming newcomers). They should also be from outside the Yorkshire area, and not playing Yorkshire on a regular basis, but wishing to expand into that area. If Pete doesn't know you personally please include links to your website and youtube or audio clips. If you are a relative newcomer please list your last six gigs (including dates). We hope there will be other showcase opportunities in other regions as more regional days are arranged.

13 Jan 12 - 05:13 AM (#3289793)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: My guru always said

This is all really good news, well done Folk21!

13 Jan 12 - 06:32 AM (#3289851)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss

George, it might be an idea to publish the results of the survey outside of facebook. Not everyone can access. (Also maybe spell out the fb address because fb defaults to the login page).

Great to hear the good work is carrying on.

Hope to make it to the Cleckheaton event if I can.


PS can't help chuckling at the basting I got here for suggesting in Ltrad that the guest-booking club model might be in trouble. I was indeed hopelessly ill-informed and sour axed, I admit!

13 Jan 12 - 07:21 AM (#3289868)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: George Papavgeris

Tom, the address for the survey results is

(though when I click on the link above it takes me straight to it anyway).

We are getting a website together ( and all documents are placed there. The Survey is already there, under "Documents".

13 Jan 12 - 07:34 AM (#3289874)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: Howard Jones

I think it's telling the difference between what people say makes a good folk club (good venue, good floor singers, regular guests, good website etc) compares with the reality. So many clubs seem to be in dingy venues, with crap floor singers, only occasional guests (and then mainly local unknowns, no disrepect intended) and with poorly designed and out-of-date websites.

What I find surprising, and disappointing, is the number who say they are put off folk clubs because they find them cliquey and unfriendly. That never used to be my experience, although as a singer and musician perhaps I found it easier to gain acceptance.

The main reason I no longer go to clubs very often is the lack of good guests coupled with poor floorsingers. I have limited time, and I have no desire to listen to poor singers in return for doing a couple of songs myself, when I can go to a tune session and play all evening. I do miss the clubs though.

13 Jan 12 - 09:12 AM (#3289919)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: doc.tom

Can someone get the blue clicky to the Folk21 site to work?

13 Jan 12 - 09:22 AM (#3289928)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: treewind


13 Jan 12 - 08:11 PM (#3290307)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: GUEST,PeterC


What I find surprising, and disappointing, is the number who say they are put off folk clubs because they find them cliquey and unfriendly. That never used to be my experience, although as a singer and musician perhaps I found it easier to gain acceptance.

Leave the instrument cases in the car and see the difference. Some are very welcoming, most have long established audiences that form very closed groups, not actively unfriendly but just leaves a stranger feeling uncomfortable. I did encounter one where somebody (I never discovered if it was an organiser just an unpleasant regular) who was positively agressive to strangers daring to enter the club.

14 Jan 12 - 05:50 AM (#3290445)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss

There are all manner of gatherings, Peter, and all of them different. How you feel about visiting one may depend on what you are looking for as much as how you are greeted.

Sorry George I didn't explain. It defaults to the log in page if you are not logged in to Facebook on the browser you are using for Mudcat (as I would not be), or, obviously, if you don't have a facebook account. As a result I can't find the facebook page on my facebook browser. Shame to seem to be working behind closed doors, no? Better, surely, to link straight to the document?

The open website looks like a good start.

I've rather missed out on these recent developments, though, as I've been otherwise engaged. Has folkWISE reached the end of its natural life? In which case should I rebrand my Hints and Tips pages perhaps, or even close it down if this new one does it all more up-to-date-ly? (Feel free to link to my page if you think that would help). []

Have you considered providing a link to Graham Dixon's survey results as well? It's all useful stuff.

And is the folk Club Organisers Group still going?

I'm slightly confused about the relationship (if any) between folkWISE, Folk21 (what does the 21 mean by the way?), fCOG and the UK Folk Club Network facebook group.

It might be an idea to clarify and provide a little road map so people can see who's who.

Best of

T x

14 Jan 12 - 07:03 AM (#3290469)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: Howard Jones

FolkWISE is restricted to those who make a significant proportion of their income from folk. I get the impression (I am not involved wtith it) that Folk21 aims to cover a wider base.

You're right to point out that there seems to be a plethora of groups springing up with broadly similar aims. Perhaps a bit of co-ordination would not come amiss.

14 Jan 12 - 07:39 AM (#3290486)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: George Papavgeris

Howard, you are right. Folk21 is independent of Folkwise, Britfolk etc, although several F21 members belong to those also. Also, Folk21 is the same as UKFCN - we just had a change of name in order to avoid confusion with the UK Folk Clubs and other similar sounding pages. The UKFCN page on FB is Folk21's, unfortunately FB won't let us rename the page because it has more than 100 members (600 in fact).

Tom, the website is about to be taken over by Sophie Dennis and developed properly. My version is just an initial placeholder for now. Sophie will enhance it, and she will add all sort of links then, including to your Hints and Tips (which went a long way towards helping us write the Guide, as you can probably tell, in fact I cribbed shamelessly in parts! But I did acknowledge :-)

14 Jan 12 - 08:14 AM (#3290500)
Subject: RE: UK: Folk21 & Regional Days
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss

Yes, I did notice, but minded not one jot (as you well knew)!

I assumed a link between F21 and UKFCN (nice anagram) but good idea to make the link overt, as at the moment it's confusual.

And who is UK Folk Clubs?

I'm impressed by the survey, but not surprised by the findings, which mirror my own educated guesses. Good to have something more scientific upon which to base the arguments.