Smaller Fests Fall On Hard Times

Promoting festivals in urban locations in the UK once again appears to be a hazardous business, as at least two have folded in the last two weeks.

Sussex Rocks, which organisers expected to attract a 60,000 crowd to a playing field in Crawley, West Sussex, was canceled amid reports the sponsor pulled out.

Festival spokesman Tony Witton told BBC News the event, which would have taken place May 6-7, would have been left with a shortfall of tens of thousands of pounds.

“In the case of Sussex Rocks we’re just a victim of the current financial situation really,” he said.

Witton said he was negotiating with some “very big names” to perform. At the time of cancellation no tickets had been sold.

The other casualty was Ringwood Rocks, which would have been staged on the town’s market square July 9-10. It may be a victim of the police’s methods of calculating the charges for covering festivals, something that would have left the event with a bill for between £40,000 and £50,000.

The stumbling block came when New Forest District Council, Hampshire Police and environmental health officials decided the event would attract a younger audience and therefore need a massive policing requirement.

A spokesman for Ringwood Town Council, which originally gave the festival the go-ahead, told the Salisbury Journal it had done so because the event was described as a smaller event to showcase the town’s talent.

“From originally being a modest event, it had grown into something much, much larger and been significantly enhanced,” he explained.

Also under threat is London’s On Blackheath music festival, which has six Greenwich councilors protesting because they think the event will cause “substantial noise and nuisance.”

Lewisham Council’s licensing panel approved the event last October, but the Greenwich councilors and the Blackheath Society are asking Bromley Magistrates Court to block it.

On Blackheath is scheduled to take place Sept. 10-11 and a crowd of 25,000 is expected.

The Greenwich councilors’ main bone of contention is said to be the fact their Lewisham counterparts didn’t consult them over the festival’s license application. The site is very is close to the boundary between the two boroughs.