Sidmouth Town Council, Annual Town
Meeting 2012 - a question about FolkWeek finances.
The following question was posed at the Annual Town
Meeting held at Sidford Social Hall on 19 April 2012.
I hope this question can be accepted for the
town meeting on 19 April. Unfortunately I am unable to attend.
The background is given on my webpages folk193.htm and folk194.htm. These are both in draft form.
Over the last few years expenditure by Sidmouth Town Council has doubled whilst that of
District and County Councils has been severely curtailed. Reducing public expenditure
should not comprise simply passing costs of services from one council to another.
Support for the new style folk festival has risen from a grudging £5000 in 2005 to
£25,000 in 2012. This now includes £5000 for social dance support - despite that the new
Stowford Centre venue should cost only around £1200 to £1500 to hire for the evening
dances that are proposed. The remaining expenditure (from the £5000) is apparently
proposed for 'advertising and promotion' - none of which is arguably necessary because all
the experienced dancers who could benefit from the new venue will hear about it via
established channels and at no cost to local taxpayers.
In addition the festival could easily increase ticket prices (rather than reduce them by
effectively 10% this year) to reduce the need for public subsidy.
My question therefore relates
to the overall management of finances in Sidmouth Town Council:
Is it not time that Sidmouth Town Council began a programme of reducing overall
expenditure by maybe 10% per year for the next 5 years? This could be achieved by
divesting itself of responsibilities and/or staff where these have been rendered
effectively redundant (because duplicate publicity for events and accommodation etc is now
so widely available on the internet) or (in the case of the Folk Festival and Britain in
Bloom) where a greater proportion of funds could and should be provided commercially
instead of from local taxpayers?
Stephen J Wozniak.
The written response (which didn't actually answer
the question at all!) was given in an email from the Town Clerk, dated 29 May 2012, as
Thank you for your email and my apologies for
not having forwarded the reply to your question which I did indeed read out at
the Annual Town Meeting.
As you rightly point out the meeting was focussed on the Local Plan but not before other
issues were talked about. The answer given (via Sidmouth Folk week of course) is copied
Christopher E Holland
I suspect that your questioner may not appreciate that (i) the grant is for 'the general
development of Social Dance within the Festival' and (ii) to be effective requires us to
employ the full range of artistic management, marketing, event production and admin
resources. This is a general remit which includes the use of Stowford Rise as an important
component, but not solely limited to that and thus has a number of other important
In general terms, we have increased the attractiveness of the Social Dance programme by
booking additional higher profile bands and callers to provide an improved experience and
greater variety. Our specific marketing of Social Dance has also been significantly
enhanced with additional leaflets being distributed by a specialist Social dance magazine
service to Social Dance clubs across the country. In addition, we taken additional
national advertising in suitable magazines. This targeted marketing aims to raise Sidmouth
FolkWeek's profile amongst this community.
To ensure that the facilities offered are the best available, we have taken booked
Stowford Rise for 5 hours each evening for a main evening dance (and additional time on
Sunday). To ensure that access is made as easy as possible we are extending the Festival
bus service to and from Stowford at appropriate times in the early and late evening
Cost Breakdown(£): Some items are portions of total costs and some estimated at this
Fees and accommodation costs for extra bands and callers to enhance Social Dance
Delivery and Distribution of 4000 leaflets to Social Dance Clubs across the country 750
Printing of extra leaflets to enable above 400
Further National Advertising in periodicals appropriate to Social Dance 750
Stowford Rise Hire 1670
Transport Costs to divert to Stowford 250
Admin. related to above (balancing figure) 180
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