Well, that’s Folk Week over for another year and we’ve now had time (although probably not enough!) to draw breath and recharge our batteries.
It was, of necessity, a markedly different Folk Week this year. Back in October, before any sign of vaccinations, before the big winter lockdown and before the government roadmap, we started thinking about what we might be able to do in 2021 and we realised that our only option was to have a festival that would be primarily open air. We knew it would be a significant risk to attempt to put anything on, but not doing anything for a second year in a row would have been financially disastrous. We also recognised the need to design our venue spaces so that our audience would feel safe and that we could operate under step 3 of the government road map, if necessary.
Through some good planning and a fair degree of good fortune (gaining permission for the main arena venue being a prime example), we got to the point where what had seemed implausible now looked possible. The efforts of our volunteers, our office staff, the committee, backed with financial support from a number of sources got us to the point where we were actually able to get our sites prepared and ready (or as ready as we could be, given the shortened timescale) for Friday 6th August.
Well, what a week it was. Although the weather took some time to be kind to us, we got lucky in a number of ways – we only lost one headline act and one pub act to Covid; all our technical, volunteer and admin staff stayed healthy throughout. However, I also like to think we made our own luck in taking the risk to go ahead with Folk Week and being serious about how it needed to be changed. We have had almost universally positive feedback about the format of Folk Week this year, particularly with regards to the re-design of the craft fair, the location of the main arena in the Memorial Recreation Ground, and the fantastic artists’ line-up that we managed to put together.
We now have quite a bit of work to do in collating and analysing the finances and then taking a long hard look at what next year could and should look like. However, it’s a great challenge to have.
Finally, can I say thanks once again to our audience for having faith in us and buying tickets (or rolling over tickets from 2020) – it’s great to be back!