Positive vibes for Sidmouth FolkWeek 2012

Booking fee dropped and ticket price held to attract more to this year’s Sidmouth FolkWeek

TOUGH economic times and competition with other festivals at the same time, made Sidmouth FolkWeek 2011 a real challenge, supporters were told on Thursday.

At a new-style celebration of FolkWeek, held at the Bedford Hotel, with music from Mrs Midnight and a History of Music by Paul Saunders, festival director John Braithwaite said: “It was going to be a tough year and it was.

“Uncertainty created in the economy made it difficult for people to make commitments, but despite the challenges we produced a lovely 57th festival.”

Of this summer’s event he told supporters, backers and town, district and county council representatives: “I feel very buoyant. There is no direct competition, though we do have the Olympics, but our market research has shown it will be generally positive and will not affect those people that come to the folk festival.”

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He said in response to “these hard times” ticket prices were being held at the same level and the four percent booking fee had been dropped.

“In this economic climate it would be foolish to put prices up five percent. It is a time for giving people better value for their money, a total experience, that is what we aim to do every year.

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“We are responding to the way people are feeling and it is something to shout about to customers.”

He said big names, including Seth Lakeman, Oyster Band and Jim Tabor would be among those headlining at this year’s festival, and welcomed Alan Bearman as new artistic director.

Alan, who ran the international festival for 18 years with Mrs Casey, has re-joined the folk festival and said he would be looking at providing a “spectacle” including dance, and involve local people in more activities.

He said people not interested in folk music but the spectacle of the event used to attend dance specials at the Knowle arena and he would be looking into “steadily increasing that sort of thing” at the new town centre venues.

One of this year’s acts is song and dance with drums from a Zimbabwe team.

He assured those at the evening he had no intention of programming anything out of town other than daytime workshops at Bulverton marquee, which “then kicks into action after 7pm”.

John said author Michael Morpurgo would be reading extracts from War Horse, with John Tams and Barry Coope accompanying him, and a pre-festival attraction would the Big Chris Barber Band concert on Thursday, August 2, tickets for which are now on sale.

As well as Alan, he introduced John Radford, director of facilities and Jason Knight, administrator and said: “I am feeling really positive this year. We will be okay as long as it doesn’t rain during the week because that keeps people away.”

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