AUG 01] WARWICK FOLK FESTIVAL NEWS
Folk Festival Under Threat
Organisers of the annual Warwick
Folk Festival may have to take the event away from the Town
Centre because of lack of support.
The event, internationally
recognised as one of the best town-based folk festivals in the
UK, has been running for 22 years and this year’s Festival,
which took place 27-29 July, attracted over 4000 visitors to
While the main Festival events
take place in the grounds of Warwick School on Myton Road, the
weekend has always included a wide choice of free entertainment
in the Town Centre. This includes music and song sessions in
pubs, morris dancing in the streets and the Family Gala Day in
the Market Place featuring dance displays, concert spots by
Festival artists and children’s entertainment.
These events cost the Festival a
considerable amount of money to put on. Dance teams receive free
tickets and concessions to the value of £10,000. The free
Festival bus service costs £900. Children’s entertainment,
pub musicians and street shows cost a further £3500. Publicity
for the Festival, which always promotes the name of 'Warwick'
and is distributed throughout the United Kingdom, costs in the
region of £7000.
Now the Festival Committee is
considering keeping the entire Festival in the grounds of the
School and turning it into a self-contained event.
Festival Director, Dick Dixon
"The Folk Festival has
always drawn people into the Town itself and proved a great
benefit to local business. This is what makes it different
from tourist attractions like Warwick Castle where visitors
are often bussed in and out of the grounds without ever
visiting the rest of the Town.
"Although we do get some
support and funding from a limited number of sources, it is
becoming hard to believe that the Warwick Folk Festival is
being taken seriously by local authorities and business. The
event seems to be very low in their priorities despite its
capacity to attract visitors from all over the world.
"People who come to the
Folk Festival tend to be reasonably affluent and willing to
make good use of the facilities offered by the town. The
long-term benefit of the Festival is that people think more
highly of Warwick and in many cases revisit Warwick in their
The Festival does receive very
limited funding from the Warwick Town and District Councils and
the Warwickshire County Council Arts Panel. However this year,
the only commercial sponsors from Warwick itself were Warwick
Castle and three Town Centre pubs - the Roebuck Inn, Tilted Wig
and Zetland Arms.
Dick Dixon went on to say:
"There are individuals who
do work hard for the Festival – such as Joe Baconnet,
Warwick Town Manager, and Dennis Stanley, the Economic
Development Officer of Warwick District Council. We really do
appreciate their efforts, but sadly they only seem to have
access to very limited resources when it comes to funding the
‘In contrast, Warwick School
has been extremely helpful, providing access to superb
facilities such as the Bridgehouse Theatre and every
assistance from the Bursar and staff. In terms of attitude
towards the Festival, the difference between the school and
the rest of the town is phenomenal."
As the Festival has grown in size
and reputation, the organisers have found themselves under
increasing pressure to maintain the highest standards in
entertainment and facilities. Judging by responses from audience
members and artists, they have succeeded despite the limited
support from the town.
Dick Dixon concluded:
"To maintain the
popularity of the Warwick Folk Festival, we really need the
services of a full-time administrator. Running events at the
school site and in the town is a complicated business, which
requires a lot of planning and co-ordination.
"It’s amazing that the
Festival has worked so well up until now with a group of us
running it in our spare time. And sometimes it is very
disheartening to make this effort for the benefit of the town
but without evidence that Warwick recognises the value of the
"The Warwick Folk Festival
is a very popular and highly successful event and Warwick
should be proud of that."