Summary of Sidmouth Herald coverage of FolkWeek 6 August 2010.

The Sidmouth Herald published extensive coverage of FolkWeek on 6 August 2010 and in subsequent weeks. In addition to these articles there was extensive coverage and photos of some of the main attractions.

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The front page piece of self-congratulation by John Braithwaite is accurate enough as a reflection of the festival as a whole but makes no mention of the ideal weather - which was surely a contributory factor. Also, it is not true that 'all other events saw a terrific attendance rate' - as is reported elsewhere, some social dance events were poorly attended and others had to be cancelled.

Also, if the festival is keen to innovate - how about some ceilidhs where the sound level is not so high that many potential attendees are driven away - or driven to using ear plugs? After all, the 'silent ceilidh' on Sunday night seemed to go down well even with the youngsters who are supposed to enjoy music only if it is so loud it dulls their senses! A letter on this topic from the SeeRed author was published a few weeks later.

The article on street collections is interesting in that it confirms the festival is crucially dependent upon the last few thousand pounds of income - and by implication it would be severely tested if the 2010 DCC grant of 5000 were to become a casualty of local government cutbacks.

The involvement of John Dyson (a member of Sidmouth Town Council) in street collections is interesting. It is further proof of the 'bonding' that has been encouraged between the council and FolkWeek. Such involvement would have been almost unthinkable when Steve Heap ran the International Festival - and when some town councillors seemed to delight in making things as difficult as possible. I can remember - I was on the council at the time!

FOLKWEEK 2010 has bucked the recession, drawing in larger crowds than last year.

Festival director John Braithwaite writes: "As this remarkable 56th Sidmouth FolkWeek Festival draws to an end, we find ourselves in the very happy position of having bucked the trend of many festivals and concerts in this difficult financial time by drawing bigger crowds than 2009.

"The response to this year's programme had been stunning. Many of the concerts in our main Ham venue sold out, and all of our other events have seen a terrific attendance rate. We're hoping local businesses have also benefited from the increased numbers. Sidmouth FolkWeek has continued to innovate with the first ever silent ceilidh, which saw several hundred dancers stripping the willow to the sounds of Nirvana and The Wombles. It was a sight to see.

"We're already looking forward to 2011 and have plenty of exciting ideas. See you next year!"

Every venue upgraded and improved

EVERY venue for Sid mouth FolkWeek 2010 has been "upgraded and improved", festival director John Braithwaite told invited councillors and guests at Saturday's Welcome Concert.

"What a change from last year when we were fighting a rearguard action against mud. This year we are undertaking risk assessment against dust!"

Eighty percent of catering outlets had changed and he was delighted with a late night "Silent Sunday" Folkin' Disco; with headphones, at Buiverton Marquee.

"I appreciate the efforts made by county, district and town councils, independent businesses that support us," he said.

Mr Braithwaite said the strength of sponsorship had helped get the festival back on its financial feet, adding: "There are miles to go and plenty of scope for it too."

FolkWeek president Tony Reed said: "It is gratifying to see the support this festival has engendered year on year. "I am very proud of what Sidmouth Folk Week has achieved over the last six years. It is important we keep this festival going and the first seven days of August remain for Sidmouth."

"Thanks to our sponsors, whose support is of great importance to this festival. You told me six years ago we mustn't let the festival die. Thank you for keeping the faith." 

Fringe fest and folk link hope

THE organisers of Sidmouth Folk Week and Folk Fringe Festival are working toward an understanding.

The two events are independent of each other, but run at the same time. There has previously been some bad feeling over this fact, with FolkWeek organisers keen to keep the two as separate as possible. But now the future is looking brighter.

The Fringe, at Thorn Park Golf Centre, Salcombe Regis, which started out as musical sessions in the bar three years ago, ran for the Saturday to Wednesday of FolkWeek. It featured Newton Faulkner as the surprise Sunday night guest.

Nick Hannan, who books the acts, said John Radford, Stage Electrics production manager for FolkWeek, had been up to talk things over.

Mr Hannan said: "We got a proper dialogue going, and we'll maybe see what happens next year. It's never our intention to do FolkWeek any harm and I hope that this will be the start of better relations between us." FolkWeek festival director John Braithwaite said he and Mr Radford had agreed talks should take place. "John has been up there to understand what they are doing," he said. "We are looking for a better understanding, so that if there was a way of working together we could. We're never going to say we want nothing to do with them because that's a very narrow view.

Question of bad behaviour

SIR - In last week's Herald pull-out, I read how the Folk Festival enhances the town's reputation and how the council has increased the handout of our money to the festival in the town council chairman's welcome.

Isn't it nice that some 'folkies' show their appreciation for the above by urinating up against the front doors of residents and town shop doorways?

I understand that some 20 such incidents, some during daylight hours, were made known to the police by last Tuesday!

Steve Chalkley Ebdons Mews Cottage Sidmouth

Triumph of FolkWeek collectors!

An important role is played each year by the FolkWeek official collecting team.

This year, having taken over from Tony and Viv Day, John Dyson from Manor Road, Sidmouth, with help from wife Ann, is co-ordinating the eight collectors and two 'office' helpers, and making sure he "accounts for every penny".

"It is a pretty full time job," says John, a former director of an investment management company, "but I am enjoy- ing it. I think the festival is a fantastic week because there is entertainment eve- rywhere. Some people have said you don't know where to go because there is so much and, clearly, there is a spontaneous and pleasant atmosphere."

From the town centre base where John, Ann and helpers count the money - which comes in at around 1,000 a day - collectors are 'dispatched' with collecting tins around the town, to seek donations from those enjoying non- concert music and dancing displays.

Jenny Moon from Lympstone has been a collector for five years and this year roped in friend Rich Gannon from the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland.

Jenny said: "We don't collect anywhere unless we are within earshot of music or dance and people are being entertained. "The rules of thumb include not collecting at venues where money is taken on the door."

Each collector works a four-hour shift and returns the tins as they fill up or get too heavy. There have been about 200 tins in circulation during the week. For their efforts they are rewarded with a free festival pass.

Once the money is in, John and Ann have to count it, bag it and either bank it or re-circulate it, exchanging change for notes at local venues.

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