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Two of the UK’s best-loved independent festivals, Barn On The Farm and Splendour, have been called off for 2024.
Splendour in Nottingham has been axed due to delays over tendering, according to promoter DHP Family.
DHP said it was told by the city council in May it needed to bid to continue running the 16-year-old event at Wollaton Park but “numerous delays” during the process meant it was now too late to stage Splendour this year.
George Akins, DHP’s managing director, said: “It has been a hugely frustrating time for us. Splendour could have gone ahead had the council heeded our warnings about the timescales required. 2023’s headliners were contracted more than a year in advance and everyone was aware of this.”
Akins said he was “well aware” of the city council’s current financial difficulties, but “some of these delays” pre-dated the announcement that the authority was effectively bankrupt.
He added: “We don’t believe it should have had any effect whatsoever. I would also say that Splendour is a significant income generator, not a cost, for the council.
The council responded: “We said last year that under the council’s new commercial strategy, the event fell into a category where a formal tender process was needed. This was to protect the authority legally, financially and to ensure the festival was achieving best value for the council and the residents of Nottingham.
“The procurement process is complex and has taken longer than we would have liked – this has made the viability of delivering a festival in 2024 very difficult.”
The council said it was “optimistic” that Splendour could return to its longtime home in 2025.
“Barn On The Farm’s recent announcement is a further warning sign of the difficult conditions facing independent festivals”
Barn on the Farm organisers yesterday (25 January) announced that the Gloucester festival – which has booked the likes of Ed Sheeran, Bombay Bicycle Club and Sigrid in its 14-year history – would be postponed until 2025 due to “financial difficulties”.
“As you know we’ve been openly vocal about the difficulties that we, alongside many other festivals, have faced over the last year,” reads a statement from the organisers. “So rather than rush into another season of planning and be on the rocks financially, we feel it’s better for us to use our time this year to focus on planning 2025 and making a huge comeback.”
Barn On The Farm 2025 will take place on 3–6 July at Over Farm, with tickets going on sale soon. Full refunds for the 2024 edition will be available until the end of the year.
“As you know the future of independent festivals [is] uncertain but my god do we need them for new music to survive,” the statement continues. “We hugely appreciate every single one of you who supports us moving forwards.”
John Rostron, Association Of Independent Festivals (AIF) CEO, commented: “Barn On The Farm’s recent announcement is a further warning sign of the difficult conditions facing independent festivals at the moment.
“Festivals are being squeezed by the rise in supply chain costs, and the effects of closures and debt incurred during COVID, meaning they are in a unique, perilous position that threatens the future of almost all but the very biggest operators in the UK.”
Rostron continued: “We again call on the government to expedite a lower VAT rate of 5% on ticket sales for the next three years to create the space for festivals to make it through this severe situation and back to the growth we all enjoyed in outdoor events prior to the pandemic.”
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