Comments and opinions from folkies on the crisis facing the Sidmouth Festival.

The Arena marquee - to cover or not to cover


In Australia, even at the smallest of festivals, there have been many wet weather contingencies in place. We use indoor venues and marquees for all the concerts, and the worst that might happen is that you might decide to stay where you are for longer if a storm hits. Our festivals also tend to be more compact, even quite big ones (The National in Canberra is a perfect example), and the camping is closer (with the exception of Woodford, which has a FREE shuttle bus). I came back from Sidmouth with an increased respect for our own festival organisers.

I was really surprised that Sidmouth did not seem to take weather factors more seriously. Is it an English thing, to tempt the weather gods?

At some of our big festivals in Oz, the marquees are huge, and the sides are open anyway, so that when it is not raining, people can spill out the edges.

Borrow the National Eistedfod Marquees.

A marquee for a reception for 150 people costs around 1500 to hire (you could have 200+ audience + stage). A marquee to cover the Arena would cost - how much? 20,000?

Hiring lots of big marquees in separate venues, kiting them out with full PA, etc, and paying big name acts to play in them is never going to be cheap. And the health and safety stuff that now cripples all festivals is even worse for Sidmouth. Lots of people moaned when the Bowd marquee closed, but that's the festival trying to stay viable by making itself a bit smaller.

The main risk seems to be that the Arena takings depend so heavily on the weather.

Why not plan the festival it as if it is going to rain ? Then there would be no need to 'underwrite' it and if it doesn't rain ,then all well and good. Plan for the worse then it can only get better.

And don't say there isn't a marquee big enough - have you seen the ones they use at rock concerts, Parties in the Parks, and other festivals (Dranouter, in Belgium, has a concert marquee that would cover the Arena AND the craft market and still have room to spare for the kids events)?

the Englishe Folke Dance ande Songe Societie didn't cry wolf when it rained!.

Even if you roofed the Arena, wet weather would still be a disincentive to the many people who travel in to see Arena Events. Not many day visitors paying on the door would be inspired by the prospect of sitting in a tent while the rain beat down outside.

Even if covering the Arena with some kind of temporary Millennium Dome may be possible, I think it'd be a real loss. Rain that's serious enough to make it impractical to use is pretty rare - 1997, when the whole week was almost drowned, was unusual enough to have gone down in folk memory. I'm surprised that insuring against something as unusual as that is all that expensive.


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