Observations from FolkWeek - 2014 and 2015.

Kennaway House and relocation of Festival Administration to Sidmouth Primary School.

New for 2014 was a centralised albeit rather 'out of town' location for all the festival administration including volunteers and artists' reception. Although on the maps for festival 2013, Sidmouth Primary School was not used extensively until 2014. It was used again in 2015 and may become a permanent feature. The story behind the move from Kennaway House is convoluted.

It seems to have been 'assumed' that the festival would use Kennaway House again in 2014 but over a period of many months they failed to confirm any booking. Kennaway House needs to book as far in advance as possible. It is run by a charity who strive hard to upkeep a high-maintenance building. They need to maximise income. So when they were asked to do a wedding on the Saturday of FolkWeek they accepted the booking. FolkWeek later came back and asked if they could confirm use the building and grounds, as in 2013 and previous years. They were told ' yes of course, but not on the Saturday!'

This precipitated the move to Sidmouth Primary School, although given that the school was on the FolkWeek maps for 2013 and yet little used (if at all) maybe the move was planned over a year ago and FolkWeek were keeping Kennaway House 'dangling' whilst the alternative was more fully assessed. In the event, FolkWeek later came back and asked to use the popular Cellar Bar in Kennaway House as a venue and were offered it on the usual terms that would be offered to anyone else. They declined, saying it was too expensive and thus in 2014 Kennaway House were inspired to 'do their own thing' during Folk Week. As can be seen from the article below, Kennaway House held a larger event in 2015, and this may now become a permanent addition to FolkWeek - but not associated with it in any way.

Attractions in 2014 indoors included an eye-catching selection of coloured glass made by a local artist from Seaton and an art exhibition. Photos on this page are from 2014.

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In 2014 publicity for the Kennaway fringe stalls was muted.

For 2015, there was an option of return to Kennaway House, but on the understanding that if Folk Week did not book it well in advance and give a firm commitment, then Kennaway would once again organise a 'fringe' event but maybe on a larger scale.

This is what happened in 2015 - as described below. Many people assume that all the activities in Kennaway House and grounds are still an integral part of FolkWeek - they are not!

This 'fringe' event in the heart of Sidmouth is now in addition to the 'free' fringe festival near Salcombe Regis, already well established as a rival for FolkWeek patrons and with a popular and well established campsite.

Article in the Sidmouth Herald 21 August 2015.

Successful Craft and Food Fair to return next year.

Traders enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of Kennaway House's second Craft and Food Fair so much that most have signed up to return to Sidmouth in 2016.

The event was staged for the first time last year, after FolkWeek organisers moved their HQ from the Coburg Road venue to Sidmouth Primary School's All Saints Road site.

We were approached by a couple of traders who wanted to return to Sidmouth and so it was decided to run our own event, which is not at all linked to the folk festival said organiser Di Bowerman, chairman of Kennaway House trustees.

This year, more stallholders booked pitches, so I had to hire a long marquee as well as using our own new one. It was such a great atmosphere, with six main food outlets joining a variety of crafters from woodturning to leather goods, silk jewellery to a music stall, both on our lawn and in the house.

We also ran two talks, given by local historian and journalist Sarah Obermuller-Bennett on ghosts and legends in Devon and Agatha Christie's Devon, which were well supported." Local artist and new trustee Bryan Dawkins also held painting demonstrations in the Cellar Bar, where work by artists featured in the Kennaway Gallery had their work on display.

Also exhibiting was Luppitt - artist Vanessa Nancarrow, who held her second solo art exhibition in the house.

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