Fringe Box



The Dragon Says: Good Luck to GuilFest But Let’s Keep It Real

Published on: 14 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 14 Oct, 2013

Dragon Roar Still 470Council meetings have been quite lively lately. First we had the two political leaders slugging it out in a, no holds barred, slagging match, then on Thursday (October 10), the Guilfest fan club descended so powerfully that no one dared raise a voice against them.

As councillors observed, the speakers were good, clearly describing and showing what the festival meant to them. And it meant a lot.

The video, a compilation of a whole range of views from Guildford faces, was very powerful. It clearly showed that this was not just a small minority interest. And well done to the council for allowing this modern medium into their meeting. These things are not a threat, they can really enhance our local democratic processes; make it more interesting and accessible.

Eventually, councillors were queuing up to tell us of their Guilfest experience. If flowers for our hair and guitars had been on hand we could have all started singing “All you need is love.” If the debate had gone on any longer goodness knows what might have been passed round with the stories.

It really showed the power of a well supported campaign. To get 1000 people to feel strongly enough on any local issue to sign a petition is no mean feat. And their view probably does represent the majority view in the town and borough.

Our own Dragon Poll, unscientific and a small sample, of course, shows nearly 70% of voters in favour of GuilFest returning. And our reader demographic does not include as many of the younger folk as we would like.

The council were right, in our view, to go with the flow and encourage event organiser Tony Scott to apply for permission to use Stoke Park next year.

But once the excitement and relief of the supporters has died down we need a reality check too. The financial plans do need careful consideration, as several councillors pointed out. other problems need to be addressed. Top line acts seemed hard to secure for the most recent Guilfests’s. Perhaps this is partly why ticket sales had become problematic, with reports that local bands had to buy large blocks of tickets to secure an appearance.

Hopefully, with the right support and with a strong team around him, any problems can be overcome. Perhaps everyone should settle for a smaller less ambitious event next year?

Many people want the festival to continue, they regard it as a real asset. While nothing is risk free, and success can never be guaranteed, the value to our town and our community is worth the risk.

So we say good luck to Tony Scott and his team. We gather that some financial backers might have already emerged and we hope, with the support of the whole town, next year’s festival will be something the town can be proud of and something from which the whole town will benefit.

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