In response to the articles in the Monmouth Beacon over the last few weeks Monmouth Festival is sorry to announce that there will be no Main Stage this year. This decision has not been taken lightly but taking into consideration recent comments and discussions the Festival feels that this was the only acceptable course of action. We are very grateful to Monmouthshire County Council for their support, backing and working with us to improve and progress the Festival.
Monmouth Festival is one of the largest tourist driving events in Monmouth town, attracting around 40,000 from all over the country and internationally, bringing a great deal of revenue to the town. We are very aware of the detrimental effect that this announcement will have on both the town and its many businesses. It is also why we have taken a great deal of time, consideration and met with many other organisations before making this decision.
Monmouth Festival has remained a relevant and successful event because it has been allowed to evolve over time. The car park site has worked well for many years but does not allow us the flexibility to update and adapt. The aim of moving Main Stage to Chippenham Fields, a village green site, was to create a more festival atmosphere over a full weekend allowing the attendance and enjoyment of all. We had agreed to protect the areas indicated by Monmouthshire County Council and were committed to litter picking and cleaning up every evening and after vacating the site, as we have always done on previous sites. We know that in other Monmouthshire town’s village green sites are shared sympathetically by associations and all types of other events and it was never our intention to upset or cause any difficulties for any other association.
Reducing the Main Stage programme from 9 to 5 day was in response to your feedback over the last several years and witnessing decreasing levels of attendance on certain nights. It has become very clear a Main Stage, nine-day festival is no longer viable or supported. Festival traders, who play a crucial part in financing the event, have also indicated that the nine-day formats is no longer attractive with its limited trading hours and nightly put up and take down.
We would like to thank the core group of businesses that have supported the Festival, as listed on our website, along with those of you that have been generous with donations and/or time. However, it is very noticeable that many of the businesses that directly benefit from the Festival have not seen the need to support it. The Festival is a free at source festival but costs in the region of £60,000 to stage. We have, as has been reported many times in the Beacon and on our social media, battled to raise this money year on year and despite our rallying cry “£ for the sound” the majority of attendees have failed to take on board this message and respond accordingly.
The Festival Committee is made up of a small group of dedicated volunteers who donate their time free of charge throughout the year organising this wonderful event. Their numbers are augmented by other members of the community who help out during the Festival itself. Despite being a volunteer run organisation, the Festival is run professionally and in a businesslike manner. We have very strict procedures with regards to bullying and threatening behaviour and whilst we appreciate and welcome constructive feedback, over the last few years many of the comments made on social media (albeit it by a minority) have been vitriolic, abusive and inaccurate. We feel that it is unacceptable and inappropriate for our volunteers to be abused in this way.
Although we are unable to put on a Main Stage programme this year, we are still keen to provide entertainment for those of you who have always supported the Festival. There will be 5 nights of music in the Riverside, a Classical programme at St Mary’s and some additional events to be confirmed. We are continuing to work with Monmouthshire County Council to find a suitable solution for the Main Stage Monmouth Festival 2020.