A free outdoor daytime music and performance festival will be held in St James Park as part of next year’s Shaftesbury Fringe. It is hoped the event on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th July will boost attendance of England’s third largest fringe.
Andy Tebbutt-Russell was not living in Shaftesbury when the previous ‘Music in the Park’ events were held. But in a letter to Shaftesbury Town Council requesting use of their green space, Andy shared his understanding of the ‘huge affection’ people had for the entertainment.
“I believe a free, family-friendly, open air stage for music and other genres of performance will add a lovely festival feel to Fringe,” said Andy, who set up and managed the first Shaftesbury Fringe four years ago.
Cllr Phillip Proctor, also a Rotarian, spoke as an ‘instigator’ of the original Gold Hill Fair event and recounted its popularity. Councillors were clearly in agreement with Andy’s proposal on Tuesday night and his request for the use of the space was speedily approved.
Members of the Town Council’s ROSE committee agreed to waive the fees for hiring St James Park because of Fringe’s benefits to the community. Andy says the income potential of this event would be limited. “The main income would usually be from alcohol sales or rent from mobile bars, but only if there’s a lot of alcohol consumption and that’s something I actively want to discourage, so there’s very little opportunity for income,” Andy wrote in his application to the council.
Andy cautioned that planning is at an ‘embryonic’ stage as the free, family-orientated sessions will depend on getting grants and sponsorship to make them possible at all. There will be costs to cover which include provision of toilet and rubbish facilities, marshals and first aid.
Andy expects that a variety of music – possibly five acts on each of the two days – will be performed from a covered stage between 10am and 6pm. Audiences would sit on the grassy slopes to watch those acts. The styles would range, ‘from soft acoustic in the morning to more rocky stuff later in the day’. Andy hopes that there will be some additional shorter performances, featuring a host of genres ranging from poetry to dance.
In his letter to the council, Andy said he understood that the previous event ended because of concerns about ‘poor behaviour’ after alcohol consumption. “This was confined to late at night after a lot of hard drinking. I believe making this a daytime event, ending at 6pm, will make the chance of drunkenness very small,” he told ThisIsAlfred.
Although Andy is on the Shaftesbury Fringe committee, Fringe volunteers don’t arrange their own events due to the immense workload required and for a range of administrative reasons. Fringe promotes the overall festival and finds willing places to host acts. Fringe then puts the performers in touch with the venue owners, so that artists can make their own arrangements to stage their productions. Andy is taking on the park venue on the same basis. It is his show, part of the overall Fringe offer in the town that weekend.
If you would like to perform in the park, you can contact Andy on firstname.lastname@example.org.