Sidmouth Town Council announces a 'post mortem' on Folk Week 2005 - then says the event will go from strength to strength.

An article by chief reporter Di Bowerman in the Sidmouth Herald, 7 October 2005. Leaving aside Councillor Reed's curious choices of words, it is notable that he insisted that a councillor be on the board of directors of the new company (is this a first for the UK folk scene?). He also said that the Town Council would be 'very active' in terms of support. Even more so than in 2005 perhaps - and without consulting the voters who already have to pay 10,000 for Sidmouth in Bloom and have no say in the matter? The words 'additional financial implications' have an almost threatening resonance.........

Future of folk in Sidmouth assured

THE FUTURE of Sidmouth Folk Week seems secure, with confirmation this week that the festival will take place from August 4 -11 next year. It follows a conference at St Nicholas' School at the weekend between those closely involved with Folk Week 2005, to discuss feedback on this year's new-look event and plan for next year.

Derek Schofield, chairman of the Folk Week steering group, told The Herald a new company, Sidmouth Folk Week Ltd, had been formed and charitable status sought.

'A decision is awaited from the Charity Commission," he said. The company directors, who will also become the charity trustees, include town and district councillor Tony Reed, president of Sidmouth Folk Week 2005, solicitor Tim Shardlow; Barry Lister from Sidford, one of the promoters of this year's event, Jean Salt of Sidmouth Steppers, Simon Spoerer from Great Western Morris and an organiser of ceilidhs in 2005, former festival director John Dowell, Tony Day, secretary of the 2005 steering group and Mr Schofield.

A representative of Sidmouth's business community will also be appointed. A sister organisation has been established by promoters to plan the 2006 event with a brief from the charity. The conference discussed the analysis of the more than 800 completed feedback forms given out during Folk Week.

Mr Schofield said: "Many suggestions were made for improvement, and these are being considered by the organisers, alongside feedback from performers, promoters and the steering group itself."

The rest of the weekend was spent discussing issues such as ticketing, involvement of young people in the festival and organisational structure for the future. It also considered further measures to sustain the tremendous support of the town and a future public meeting is being arranged.

Eddie Upton, director of Folk South West, who was involved in promoting events in Manor Pavilion and 'Young Sidmouth' events, said: "This was a very worthwhile and fruitful weekend. "There is now a lot of work to do, but there is great enthusiasm for the future."

On Monday, Councillor Reed reported on the conference to fellow town councillors saying: "It was a post mortem and meeting to discuss how the festival had been received and we think it has been well received. "Young people thought it had been over-policed and old people thought it had been under-policed so I think we got this right.

"We got an impression of what we got right and what we got wrong and where to go in the future."

He had insisted there was a town council representative on the board of directors, and said: "Sidmouth Town Council would be very active in terms of support, financial and otherwise."

Mr Reed said some feedback had queried why some things had not been provided this year, adding: "It would have been a quantum leap to provide some of it."

He also said there would be additional financial implications to maintaining what was provided this year as some venues were provided free or at a reduced charge. "All in all it was a successful festival and most people are keen to take it forward. Sidmouth Folk Ltd will go from strength to strength."


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