Opinion: In defence of festivals

Opinion: In defence of festivals

When the next edition of the PR crisis management handbook is written, the doomed Hope & Glory Festival will require a chapter all to itself.

From the contemptuously terse cancellation announcement (“no festival today”) to the social media storm that followed, the event’s organisers provided a crash course in exactly how NOT to handle a crisis.

Indeed, was it not for the Liverpool festival's lamentable reaction, its demise would arguably not have received nearly as many column inches outside Merseyside or the music press. Instead, its antagonistic response saw it quickly escalate into a national news story.

Coming in the wake of the disastrous Fyre Festival and just a week after Derbyshire’s Y Not Festival was forced to cancel its own final day in very different circumstances, Hope & Glory’s collapse has brought the entire festival industry under the microscope.

Jon McClure, frontman of Reverend And The Makers, whose band were due to appear at the event, was especially scathing in his criticism. McClure claimed declining record sales had left all except music’s equivalent of the 1% fighting for scraps in the festival market, leaving themselves at the mercy of “at best amateurs, at worst gangsters”, masquerading as promoters.

While the full story of what went wrong at Hope & Glory will no doubt come out in the wash, there has been no suggestion of any criminal wrongdoing. And as any event organiser would tell you, the idea of running a festival to make a quick buck is laughable – most take years just to break even.

Such calamities attract such attention precisely because they are so rare – literally hundreds of music festivals are held successfully each summer by dedicated, creative and passionate promoters. Together, they have given the UK a circuit to be proud of. So be careful not judge the many by the failings of the few.

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