Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ashton Court – Will it Sink?

You may (or may not) know that Ashton Court is still mired in debt. At the end of the 2006 event they ended up with a whopping £100,000 in debt;

"In 2006, the extra costs incurred by the new licensing regulations, plus the ₤8,000 bill for graffiti damage and the ₤11,000 bill caused by people vandalising the estate, have left the festival owing over £100,000. As an independent and not for profit organisation we are entirely reliant on sponsorship and gate income to survive, so there is no margin for error."

I would like to know a little more about the figures here. If we take the £19K they say was from damage/graffiti that leaves £81,000 – is that what the licensing regulations cost? Hmmm. Or is there another reason for the debt that they are not telling us? Is there any debt from the alleged lower turn-out to the 2006 event? Does that mean they are getting the mix of the event wrong? How much income (or loss) did they get from the much criticized 'VIP Area'?

I feel there is an element of the chickens coming home to roost. Here's my take on it; if they want my money, I want to know what they are going to do to change? What if people donate all the money and the festival does really well and they make loads of profit? Does it get refunded? What will safeguard the donations people make? Or, what guarantees are there that they will listen to people and not do any stupid things anymore like the ridiculous VIP area? What is there to stop the festival signing another loaded sponsorship deal, like the one with Orange? If they do, there is a danger that all the donations will do nothing more than act as a kind of subsidy to a large corporation. I suggest that in exchange for donations the festival reforms. How about becoming an 'open source' festival – publish the details of the event and the slots on a wiki and let people suggest things to go in it? There are lots of things they could do, but if they want my £20 suggested donation, I'd like to know what Bristol is going to get in return for bailing them out of the mess they have helped to create – and what is going to stop them re-creating it?

More questions than answers and Venue's fawning articles on the issue shead no light.

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