Sidmouth Folk Festival 2005: the experts cast doubt?

The following exchanges took place on the mudcat forum. You need to bear in mind:

From: GUEST,News from Telford  15 Nov 04

The future of the Sidmouth Festival was discussed by many delegates at the Association of Festival Organisers Conference held in Telford on 13/14 November.

The overwhelming majority agreed that no event worthy of the name 'Sidmouth Festival' was likely to happen in 2005 and any events that did take place would be more likely to harm than help efforts to get a proper Sidmouth Festival reinstated in 2006.

Those with knowledge and experience of the Sidmouth situation suggested that the local council and traders needed to experience the effects of a year with no Festival if they were to be persuaded to properly support a proper Festival again in the future.

There was a very strong view that practical issues relating to insurance/health & safety/council licensing requirements do not appear to have been properly considered at an early enough stage by those claiming that they are organising events in 2005.

The many agents present at the Conference indicated that they were unlikely to accept bookings for their artists from Sidmouth next year as they did not have sufficient confidence that the promised concerts would actually take place.

The general conclusion was that it was best to concentrate efforts on reinstating a proper Sidmouth Festival in 2006 and forget about organising a poor substitute in 2005.

From: Tony Day 15 Nov 04

I have just spoken to my good friend Steve Heap, who has just got back from the AFO conference. I read him the spoof posting "News from Telford" above, and it is just that - a spoof.

Not only is it, in Steve's words, a "load of twaddle", but it is a strict rule of AFO that it never passes judgement on a festival or how it is being organised.

Steve Heap has asked me to report the truth on here, on his behalf - which is why I have departed from my recent (and future) policy of ignoring all the ill informed and often malicious nonsense which is posted on here, probably by one person who has their own private reasons for wanting Sidmouth 2005 to fail. It won't.

We will report progress at intervals, as the programme takes shape over the coming weeks and months. In time it will all be on our website, too.

From: GUEST,Anon 15 Nov 04

As someone else who was at the AFO Conference I can confirm the REPORT FROM TELFORD does not reflect any formal debate or resolution on Sidmouth (there was none) but neither is it "a load of old twaddle".

I would say REPORT FROM TELFORD does accurately reflect the views of Conference delegates who discussed Sidmouth quite a lot in the bars and informal get-togethers.

I would add that if Tony Day wants to accurately reflect Steve Heap's own views he should mention that Steve has said he believes Sidmouth needs a year with no festival at all if the local authority and the town traders are ever to be persuaded to financially support a festival in 2006 at the required level.

I apologise for posting as 'Anon'. Please don't criticise me. I think other readers of Mudcat have a right to know what experienced festival organisers are saying but I don't want the name of my own festival dragged into the ongoing Sidmouth debate.

From: Tony Day 15 Nov 04

I can only repeat what Steve said to me this evening. He used the words "load of twaddle" and asked me to make the truth clear on here on his behalf. He also refuted the other scurrilous suggestion that agents won't book their acts there.

I must also tell you that Steve said this evening that he will be in Sidmouth next year - both for the Middle Bar Singers reunion (18th Feb folks!), and for the first week in August.

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