End of year reality check for the Sidmouth Folk Festival 2005

The following message was posted on the mudcat website on 30 December 2004. (Sentences in red have been highlighted by SeeRed author - further comment would be churlish - except maybe to ask again why the dancing cannot also be accommodated in town instead of in outlying schools halls.......)


Folk Week comes back into town

The focus of Folk Week 2005 will be the centre of town and the seafront, the organisers have announced.

Three main concert venues are planned – the Manor Pavilion, the restaurant of the Bedford Hotel, and now a 900 seat marquee on the Ham. Artists being lined up include Show of Hands, the Battlefield Band, Strawhead, Sandra Kerr, John Kirkpatrick, the New Scorpion Band and many more.

Local dancers the Sidmouth Steppers are arranging Morris dancing on the Esplanade and in the Market Square – and have had offers from almost 40 groups, including a women's Morris dancing group from Rhode Island, USA.

As well as the concerts, there will be ceilidhs in the Anchor Garden and elsewhere, and several town centre pubs will be hosting singarounds and music sessions.

The plans for the Ham have been drawn up by folk promoter Gordon Newton, who will soon be moving to Sidmouth to live. They take the place of earlier proposals to use the Knowle Arena in 2005.

Steering Group member Stuart Hughes says "we had hoped that it would be possible to put on a week of events up at the Knowle, but the infrastructure costs just keep on mounting and it has now become clear, as others have found out before, that without significant sponsorship the financial risk is just too great."

Eddie Upton, who is co-ordinating the concert programme, says the decision to pull out of the Arena will open up new opportunities. "Stuart and Chris Wale made a brave attempt, and I'm pleased that they will remain involved with Folk Week. By putting on the big names at the Ham instead, we will be bringing all concert goers into the town. That will benefit local businesses – and no-one will lose a fortune should it rain all week."

Tony Reed, Chairman of the Town Council is also on the 2005 Folk Week Steering Group, which has a majority of local people. He says "discussions with the various organisers are going well – I continue to be delighted by the tremendous spirit of co-operation. It bodes very well for the future of the Festival."

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