Can Festivals Survive?



“A festival wasteland,” the Association of Independent Festivals warned in May 2020, as Britain faces a music-less summer of cancelled festivals. So Glastonbury apart what does this mean for some of our smaller and medium sized events? In the first of a two-part interview, AWTY spoke to Andy Rea from 2000 Trees, to find out how one of Britain’s favourite smaller festivals is surviving.


“For us it’s been devastating as we don’t have an event. It was such a horrible feeling when finally, we had to pull the plug. At that moment it was the end of the hope and possibility for this year, although the beginning of the hope and possibility for 2021.


“It’s really hard to go on that rollercoaster where you are working towards one festival a year and then it doesn’t happen. Financially it wipes out your income, and emotionally it’s hard to handle, because it’s such an important part of our lives. We do it because we love it.”

Started in 2007 ‘Trees’ as it’s affectionately known, has risen from an initial festival with a thousand music lovers in a field, to a 12,000 audience, three-day event. However, a growth in size also incurs a growth in expenditure.


“So much of a festival is money put up before the event. Some of that we can get back but some we can’t, such as the spend on marketing. We weren’t able to get government funding as a limited company and festivals seem to fall through the cracks in terms of support. I don’t have data available to me but I’m sure some festivals, where people are dependent on that as their sole source of income, will struggle.”

‘Girlfriend bought us tickets for 2019 for my birthday. Met Frank Turner, got utterly plastered, made a baby. 10/10, would do again (not making a baby, one is enough)’.

However, if for ‘Trees’ there was the loss of the event, in a perverse way it has identified and consolidated the support of their loyal fans. A crowdfunding appeal raised an astonishing £120,000 from 1,361 people to help keep going into 2021. Comments on their funding page reveal the level of support it enjoys. ‘This festival is responsible for some of the best memories of my life, growing up. They deserve nothing less,’ ‘You were my first ever festival 4 years ago at the age of 47 and I would love to continue my love affair with you for many years to come’ and ‘Girlfriend bought us tickets for 2019 for my birthday. Met Frank Turner, got utterly plastered, made a baby. 10/10, would do again (not making a baby, one is enough)’.


“It blew us away,” said Rea. “It’s secured the festival which means we can go ahead with confidence into 2021 and if there is a silver lining to this horrible situation it means we are way ahead in our planning for next year. You hope, but you never know, and then to see that level of support is such a testament to the fans we have.”

CK


See also

For whom The Bell tolls


With continuing uncertainty as to when live music will be allowed back in pubs and even then will it be viable, AWTY asks one iconic local venue whether it, and others, can survive?