F.F.S. I thought this might happen. Colchester Free Festival 2016 will not be happening.

From what I’m hearing, Colchester Borough Council really need to look at their policy when “supporting” volunteer run events that take place in the town.

The good Colchester Chronicle has broken the story here

Below is the official press release issued this afternoon by the organisers of Colchester Free Festival.

Marc De’ath and Andrew Winmill from Colchester Free Festival have announced that event will not take place in 2016.

The annual festival, run entirely by unpaid volunteers, returned to Castle Park in 2010 and last August it grew to run for 2 days over the bank holiday weekend.

Festival Directors Marc and Andrew have explained the reasons behind their decision.

Andrew says, “Last year we took a leap of faith and attempted to grow the event to two days. The aim was to become more attractive to partners, funders and sponsors alike and help us secure our long-term sustainability.

We are proud of what we achieved given the resources available but we didn’t attract the level of support we were hoping for going forward.

In 2015, the 2 day event cost over £50,000 to organise. A small amount by many festivals’ standards but still a significant sum for a volunteer group running a free entry event.”

Marc added, “Colchester is in a unique position for a town of its size, having 3 National Portfolio Art Organisations, but also having an exceptional volume of creative talent, organising things at grass roots. We need to be making much more of that.

Colchester Borough Council has remained committed to funding established institutions such as Firstsite, Colchester Art Centre and Mercury Theatre. However, the recent cancellations of Colchester Film Festival and Colchester Carnival Fun Day shows that the Borough could be a lot better at nurturing the community-led culture that’s already bubbling beneath the surface.

It’s not just about financial contributions. Money aside, I feel there was an opportunity for a lot more strategic round table conversations about how we can all work collectively to keep things going.

These kind of conversations haven’t been forthcoming — this coupled with increased financial pressures have led us to decide not to run the event in 2016.”

Ben Howard of Keep Colchester Cool, who brought the festival back to Colchester in 2010 before standing down as an organiser in 2012 said, “This was always my biggest fear. Support for the festival was always difficult to secure and as the festival got bigger, and indeed better, that support should have been more forthcoming. It’s a massive blow to the town.”



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