Petty minded attitudes at Sidmouth
Town Council are indicative of the tensions between some councillors and the Festival.
This report is from the Sidmouth Herald of 26 April 2002. The sum of money involved is a
few hundred pounds! Can you blame Steve Heap for becoming frustrated?
Charges plea in fight to keep festival local
SIDMOUTH International festival has appealed
to Sidmouth Town Council to reconsider charging it £100 a day for occupation of The Ham
by its marquee. A trustee meeting of the council in February agreed a £100-a-day fee in
place of a previous arrangement whereby the festival paid £100 a day when the marquee was
being used for performances, but only £50 a day when it was in place, but not in use.
In a letter to the council, festival director Steve Heap said that, with the marquee
scheduled to be put up on July 27 in readiness for the start of the event on August 2, a
rent of £1500 was being faced. He said this was a steep increase from relatively recent
times when a charge of £50 a day was made and only for the times the marquee was in use.
This gave a total bill of £350.
Then the charge went up to £100 for each concert day and now there was to be the same
levy even when the marquee was not in use. Mr Heap said he was grateful for the £500
grant from the town council towards the festival children's events in Blackmore Gardens,
but said that it had not gone up in recent years, even to take account of inflation. He
said: "I find myself being asked to pay back three times as much as the grant that is
coming to the festival in the first place."
His letter stresses that the festival company is non-profit making and exists only to keep
the festival running, with any profits being reinvested into future development. There
were no profits in 2001, with the uncertainty caused by foot-and-mouth hitting bookings
badly and losses being sustained to add to ones in 1997 and 1998.
"The festival cannot cope with these continued losses and we have constructed a
festival for 2002 which trims the event to a more manageable size and hopefully will
rectify some of the problems without losing the charm and special, unique nature that it
brings to Sidmouth," the letter continues.
"I appeal to you to reconsider your decision to charge the new fees. Whilst I
appreciate you are acting as trustees for the Trust of The Ham we are trying to keep the
festival where it belongs, in Sidmouth".
back to top of section
back to home page