Letter from Sidmouth Herald, 19 November 2004.

Festival volunteers left in the dark

After several weeks of 'no news' about the Folk Festival in 2005 you printed last week a summary produced by the 'steering group' - whoever they are.

The only real opportunity for local folkies to get involved was the public meeting organised by Sidmouth Town Council and held at the Manor Pavilion on 14 June. About 20 of us gave our names to the Town Clerk as being willing to help in organising 2005 and planning 2006. To date we have heard nothing.

A meeting was held of the 'steering group' on 23 October. I was told I could not attend because it was only for people who were intending to put on performances and organise the arena, etc.

The present position seems to be that a structure of 2005 is being set in stone by a few enthusiasts. Local people may be invited to comment on their blueprint by way of 'fine tuning'. Given that one of the criticisms levelled at Steve Heap was lack of local involvement, it might have been politic to offer more local participation in the early planning stages. I told EDDC as much this morning.

I will not comment here on the 'initiative' by the Town Council to raise 50,000 to employ a consultant to tell us what we know already. However, there is plenty of doubt being expressed on the internet about the prospects for 2005 and onwards. A strong supportive local base would therefore surely be an asset?

Dr Stephen J Wozniak

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