Observations from a festival organiser, adapted from an internet forum, 25 August 2004.

The sentiments echo feelings expressed by many people in Sidmouth - that maybe East Devon District Council have yet to comprehend what is involved in running a festival the size and complexity of Sidmouth 2004.

Certainly a smaller festival could be organised in 2006 by 'cherry picking' the parts of Sidmouth 2004 that were financially viable in their own right. However, numbers attending cannot be guaranteed and a lot of money 'up front' would be needed.

"Experience elsewhere in the UK suggests that if there is a 'gap' year then it can often prove fatal - sponsors, helpers, suppliers, traders and audiences all discover attractions elsewhere and never return in such great numbers again.

The question has been posed:

"Could anyone make it work as well or better than Steve Heap and his experienced team?"

No other experienced Festival organiser that I know of will touch it. We all believe that if Steve Heap can't make it work, nobody can.

To those who think otherwise, I wish you well but I fear that many simply have no idea just how great the costs of staging even a reduced-size Sidmouth will be... how much time it will take to organise... or how stringent the rules relating to Health & Safety, Insurance and Licensing now are.

Any event will require a Public Entertainment Licence and, before granting the Licence, the Council will require at least 10 million Public Liability Insurance, full Risk Assessments for all venues (and campsites), the appointment of qualified Safety Officers, a Noise Management Plan, Event Management Plan, proven knowledge of the Event Safety Guide etc. etc.

The days when you could just turn-up and dance on the Prom are long gone.

Even if someone can provide all the above there is still the little matter of needing sufficient funding to cover all costs, including a 'reserve' of around 250,000 in case of bad weather, the very issue that has forced Steve Heap to withdraw in the first place.

I hope the Festival survives for it is far too good to lose, but I hope anyone thinking of organising it knows just what they are taking on."

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