The Gate to Southwell Festival, one of the highlights of the Midlands’ music calendar, has been cancelled following the government’s introduction of stricter social distancing measures over the coming weeks. Although the annual festival would not have taken place until early June, the festival committee was forced to make the difficult decision now in order to limit further expenditure and offer 100 per cent refunds to all ticket buyers and traders.
The 14th festival was to have been an international extravaganza of roots, acoustic, folk, blues, soul, ska, world and other music styles, set over four days near the lovely market town of Southwell in Nottinghamshire, featuring artists from the USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, France, Ireland and the UK.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult and painful decision for us,” says the Festival Director Mike Kirrage. ” We’ve built this festival from nothing over the past 13 years and its grown into one of the most successful and best-loved music events in the Midlands and contributes hugely to the local economy. But given the government’s health and safety guidelines, we have little choice.”
“If we don’t cancel now – only 11 weeks away from the festival – we’ll incur major costs. We attract international artists from all over the world; some are already changing their touring schedules, and others will soon have travel expenses. If we left the cancellation decision longer, we wouldn’t be in a position to refund our loyal supporters.
“Our sincere apologies to artists, traders and suppliers and our grateful thanks to our army of volunteers all of whom we will miss meeting up with this year. Our aim now is to look forward to providing another top quality festival in 2021.”
The committee took the decision having already spent significant amounts preparing for the 2020 festival. Further expenditure in early April would have been necessary to cover infrastructure, artists and other costs. Cancelling now enables them to secure the future of the festival and also refund everybody who’s already paid for tickets.
A website statement, addressed to festival goers from the committee, explains: “we’ve read recommendations in the press and on social media that we should ‘hold our nerve’ and plough on. We could have taken this approach but it would have been your money being risked – you put your trust in us and we don’t want to betray that. We are a not-for-profit organisation and have only limited reserves. All ticket buyers will receive a full refund of the ticket price, as will traders who have paid us a deposit. Full details via www.gtsf.uk.”
“We’re really disappointed Gate to Southwell won’t be happening in 2020,” added Mike Kirrage. “Whilst we always have cancellation insurance, this does not cover cancellation due to communicable disease. So we would like to thank all of our wonderful supporters and hope to see them next year. More importantly, our thoughts go out to all those affected by health issues, as well as those who will be financially affected by current events.”
A wide range of artists have headlined the festival since it began in 2007 when the first, predominantly-folk line-up featured Martin & Eliza Carthy and Kathryn Tickell. Since then, Southwell’s witnessed great performances from the likes of Bellowhead, Clannad, Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Eddi Reader, Billy Bragg, Lindisfarne, Cara Dillon and, in 2019, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and Los Pacaminos (featuring Paul Young).
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