Sidmouth Folk Week 2012 - secrecy and exclusion as the twin policies?

folkweek5000jan2012.jpg (122057 bytes) In December 2011 it was announced in the Sidmouth Herald that John Braithwaite would attend the next Sidmouth Town Council meeting to present an update on FolkWeek. In the formal agenda it was listed as being a 'public' presentation.

At the meeting however, the agenda item was swiftly moved to 'Part B' - where councillors discuss amongst themselves items that are deemed too sensitive (or embarrassing) for mere taxpayers to hear.

The 5000 is presumably in addition to the 20,000 pa already committed on an ongoing basis. This would take the Sidmouth Town Council contribution to 25,000 pa - no wonder they act as though they now own the festival!

folkweekmeeting2012.jpg (108971 bytes)

In March 2012, notice was given in the Sidmouth Herald of another FolkWeek event that was in effect to be held in secret because it was 'by invitation only'.

So once again mere taxpayers or ordinary folk dancers were not permitted even to attend a FolkWeek meeting where the progress of the event might be discussed.

Whilst being claimed to be more informal fun and useful than previous (public) meetings, a better description might have been secretive, sanctimonious and self-congratulatory.

Maybe the only views permitted to be discussed were those approved by FolkWeek management?

stowford.jpg (150118 bytes) More will be said later on this website about the Stowford Rise centre. It is located opposite Waitrose - map here.

It is a prestigious new building and arguably a 'vanity project'. Ever since it was opened (with the usual fanfare involving variously lunatic and inadequate councillors) it has suffered from low usage, probably owing to its location.

There may be a desperation to have it more fully utilised.

One of the reasons for low usage may be the steep hire charges - 50 per hour for the whole building. Large village halls with kitchen facilities can be hired for typically 100 for 4 hours on Saturday nights, and 50 for 4 hours at other times. Smaller halls can be hired for 25 for 4 hours. Bulk booking discounts should also be available.

As a 'quality' dance venue, Stowford Rise should serve well for formal functions such a Playford Ball and for other large evening dances. There will be plentiful parking nearby at Waitrose. However the venue is both secluded and too far out of town to showcase social dance to the wider public: only the people inside will have any idea what is going on. Needless to say, Sidmouth Town Council foresee its use as an opportunity for some self-congratulatory preening and in 2012 allocated up to 5000 of public money for hire of the hall in the evenings and for 'advertising'.

They might do better to learn proper use of the English language - in their minutes of meeting (reproduced above) they should say "owing to the confidential nature" rather than "due to". It is a common mistake! Use of Blackmore Gardens for more social dance during the day is another positive development for FolkWeek in 2012.

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