Fringe Box



Fears Local Bands Will be Snubbed by New Festival’s Organisers

Published on: 28 Feb, 2013
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2013

A new music festival appears to be heading for Stoke Park this summer, but there are fears that local bands may not get the chance to play there.

The crowd at GuilFest in July 2012. Picture by Mike Ellis.

The crowd at GuilFest in July 2012. Picture by Mike Ellis.

Local media has this week been reporting that – following the collapse of locally based GuilFest, due to financial problems – a London-based promotor, Live Nation, has announced that it will be putting on a two-day music festival in Stoke Park over the weekend of July 13 and 14. However, Guildford Borough Council, owners of Stoke Park, has not confirmed the festival will be taking place.

But callers to 96.4 Eagle Radio have already been asking the question: “Will local bands be getting a look it?”  The station’s breakfast show host, Peter Gordon, said: “Our listeners have been asking what provision will there be for local bands at the new festival?

He added that he thinks it is surprising that at this stage [only a few months before the event goes ahead] that no mention has been made whether local bands and artists will be part of the festival.

GuilFest, run for 21 years by Guildford man Tony Scott and his company Scotty Events Ltd, provided ample stage space for local bands, most of whom were not fully professional. In the festival’s latter years it is believed that many of these amateur and up and coming bands were not paid to perform. However, the musicians had free weekend passes to the festival and earned their place on one of the smaller stages by helping to sell GuilFest tickets to their fans.

A statement released this week by Tony Scott and his GuilFest team read: “We are surprised and saddened to hear that Guildford Borough Council has agreed to let Live Nation host a music event on Stoke Park this summer. We’d hoped after discussions at the end of last year between Guildford Borough Council and ourselves, there may have been the possibility for us to put on another “GuilFest mark 2” in the summer, but with this news it seems this will no longer be possible.

“After 21 fantastic years of putting on GuilFest, we’d like to say a huge thank you to the many thousands who’ve been either involved or attended making GuilFest one of the best festivals of its kind in the UK culminating in winning the UK’s Best Family Festival Award in 2006.

“We really hope that this won’t be the end and that in the near future we will be back with another festival.”

In its statement over the news breaking of the new festival, Guildford Borough Council, wrote: “When Scotty Events Ltd, organiser of GuilFest, went into liquidation in 2012, Guildford lost a family focused event that supported local acts. It was extremely popular for over 20 years and attracted thousands of visitors to the town. We are keen to continue our support for live music and we hope to see a new event at Stoke Park in the future. We were approached by and met with a number of potential organisers last year, including Tony Scott, as we were keen to hear his views. We are discussing the hire of Stoke Park with a potential operator for summer 2013.”

A music promoter, Andy Vale, contacted Eagle Radio saying he believes there needs to be some local involvement at the new festival. He thinks there should be at least one stage for local or upcoming acts, but the quality of the local artists should be “really strong”. He added: “Pack it with the finest the local area has to offer. In that, I would like to see the local bands getting paid. GuilFest, to its credit, did give a lot of bands a lot of stages. Some bands started on smaller stages and then got bumped up next year to the main stage or bigger stages, in really good slots and got to play for lots of people.”

However, even before last year’s GuilFest, hit hard by the poor weather, muddy conditions and low attendance – the reason for its demise, The Guildford Dragon News was picking up comments from people saying they thought there were too many local amateur bands playing each year, with the quality of them often being rather poor.

On the festival scene Live Nation is known for organising a variety of music events. This year it already has festivals at Reading, Leeds, Latitude (Southwold, Suffolk) and Download (Donnington Park near Derby).

What do you think? If a music festival takes place on Stoke Park this summer, how much of it should be given over to local bands? Or not at all? Please leave a comment in the ‘Leave a reply box’ below.

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Responses to Fears Local Bands Will be Snubbed by New Festival’s Organisers

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    March 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I share the need to provide the opportunity for local talent.

    It must not be overlooked that Stoke Park itself was given to The Borough as a local amenity for the people of Guildford.

    It can never rival such festivals such as Glastonbury by very nature of its central location. To try to do so would considerable pressure on the quality of life of local residents.

    We have been witness to how the vagaries of our English weather can not only turn the park into a morass but can also lead to a considerable financial loss.

    Perhaps some thought should now be given to finding a more suitable site. Perhaps on the considerable land under University control or in some out-lying country district where it would cause less upset to our residents.

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