Music festival prepares for final event

THE organisers of an annual music festival, which has been held in Chelmsford for 23 years, are set to make this year's event the last one because it has continually lost money.

THE organisers of an annual music festival, which has been held in Chelmsford for 23 years, are set to make this year's event the last one because it has continually lost money.

The Chelmsford Cathedral Festival will still be held from May 10 to 19 but has finally run out of steam and sufficient sponsorship to keep going.

Tony Allen, the cathedral's publicity officer, said the event had been failing to break even for several years and showed no sign of picking up new backing.

He said: “It's the 24th and last because we've been working on a deficit for some time and we just feel we can't continue.


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“Although the deficit hasn't been a large sum of money, the fact is that it can't possibly continue. It is so difficult now to get local sponsors.”

Mr Allen said that the cathedral's capacity limited the revenue gained from the evening concerts and restricted the type of artist the festival could draw.

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“Our capacity is 700. Some of the big concert halls are twice that size. You need sponsors to support a festival and attract big names,” he said.

Tony Tuckwell, the event organiser, said the problems began six years ago when arts sponsorship collapsed after the “dot com” crash.

He said: “We lost half of our sponsorship then and we've never been able to regain it. There has been a national recovery, but that is due to huge multi-national firms who put money into events that have major coverage.

“More and more high street businesses are part of major chains where no decision is left locally and all sponsorship is conducted nationally.

“We just can't see a way around it. However when it finishes we shall finish without having owed a penny to anybody.”

He said that despite the sad news that this year would be the last, he was looking forward to the “fantastic” programme on offer and thanked the sponsors who had stuck by the event.

He added: “They've been great. It's not an issue with the sponsors we've got - it's ones that we've lost. We're just going to enjoy it.”

On the agenda for this year's festival are a string of evening concerts in the cathedral and a host of events taking place at a number of different locations.

Local orchestra the Chelmsford Sinfonietta will be opening the evening shows, while the King's Singers and the London Festival Opera will also be performing.

There will also be a beer tasting session, a special story-time for children and an “English country garden” massed choir concert.

For more information about items on the programme visit www.chelmsfordfestival.org.uk

elliot.furniss@eadt.co.uk

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