Sidmouth Folk Festival 2005: the
experts cast doubt?
The following exchanges took place on the
mudcat forum. You need to bear in mind:
- one or more festival organisers may have their eyes on 'taking over' from Sidmouth.
- many people still do not understand that whilst the town of Sidmouth (and the wider area
of East Devon) undoubtedly make some money from hosting a large festival, the loss in
revenue would not be serious for most businesses were it either to be downsized or
abandoned. This has been explained on pages folk21.htm and folk22.htm. None of the people who criticise the SeeRed site have
ever offered their own analysis for review.
- trying to 'hold the town to ransom' by not organising a festival in 2005 would delight
some of its local enemies. They might be able to point to vacancies left by folkies having
been filled by other (and less noisy?) visitors.
- The only identified person in all of this is Tony Day - who has emerged as one of the
key organisers of the 2005 festival. However, much of the 'News from Telford' seems
credible enough - especially when you factor in that the views expressed by some festival
organisers may change when Steve Heap is party to a conversation.
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.
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.
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.
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
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