East Devon District Council Press Release 6 August 2004: Sidmouth Festival 2005/2006.

In a joint declaration, a number of interested parties have announced a positive proposal designed to secure the future of Sidmouth International Festival in perpetuity – and to bring it home!

This follows a decision by the Festival’s current promoters to end their involvement unless a sum of 200,000 can be found to guarantee against wet weather losses.

In a nutshell the new proposals are:

: To accept the withdrawal of current promoters Mrs Casey Music and Director Steve Heap
: To set up a Voluntary Trust (or similar) involving all interested parties to secure a sustainable Festival for the benefit of generations to come &
: To maintain the Festival at a similar level of size and scope to its current status &
: To set up a one-day conference and workshop in early Autumn 2004 to harness all the support that has been offered &
: To take a year out in order to set up the necessary infrastructure
: To suspend the Sidmouth International Festival for the year 2005 only &
: To bring the Festival back with a bang in 2006

With the strains of concertina music wafting through the window of a meeting room at Knowle, Sidmouth, a number of organisations keen to see the festival continue met for two hours this morning (Friday 6 August 2004).

Hosted by East Devon District Council, the meeting was chaired by Councillor Andrew Moulding, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, and involved Eddie Upton of Folk South West and Marilyn Tucker of the Wren Trust.

The current promoters of the Festival were not present at the talks, but will be invited to take part in the consultation process later this year.

The proposal is to set up a broad-based voluntary trust or similar, with membership extended to involve local business people, East Devon District Council, Sidmouth Town Council, Folk South West, the Wren Trust, Great Western Morris and other similar organisations, each of whom would nominate representatives to act as Trustees.

The objective of the Trust would be to create a structure for the Festival that would make it sustainable into the future and reduce its current dependency on good weather.

To allow time to build a sustainable festival, with a stronger identity and maintaining the current brand image, it was agreed not to promote a festival in 2005, but instead to work towards a full status festival in 2006.

Councillor Moulding said after the meeting: “I am absolutely delighted that we have come up with a proposal that should ensure Sidmouth has a sustainable Festival for many years to come. We are determined to ensure that the Festival we put on is the kind of festival that everyone wants and not something that is a mere shadow of the extensive and eclectic Festival that everyone knows and loves.

“East Devon District Council is totally committed to the Festival and sees this as a way forward. But we want to allow time in the very near future to consult with other interested parties to ensure they are happy with the new structure and that we can rely on their full support for this preferred way forward.

“We will be setting up a facilitated conference day and workshop in the early autumn, at which all interested parties will be invited to commit to the plan. Obviously the financial issues are at the heart of the Festival’s future and this will form a crucial element of our discussions.”

next page

back to top of section

back to home page