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Future of Isle Of Wight Festival in doubt

By | Published on Monday 10 October 2016

Isle Of Wight Festival

The 2017 edition of the Isle Of Wight Festival may not go ahead, unless costs can be significantly reduced. This news has been revealed in a report prepared for the island’s local council, as it prepares to consider a request to waive the cost of hiring Seaclose Park, which the council operates and is where the festival takes place.

Originally staged between 1968 and 1970, the festival was revived by Isle Of Wight Council in 2002, and has been run by private company Solo Promoters for the last fourteen years. The current agreement between Solo and the council runs until 2019, but the company has said that changes in the festival market mean it must drastically reduce costs in order to be able to continue.

Solo has proposed that the council waive the £55,000 land use charge for Seaclose Park. A council meeting on Wednesday this week will consider reducing it to £13,000, if Solo agrees to take on £42,000 worth of work currently managed by the council – including traffic management and providing additional toilets at travel hubs. However, a report prepared for the council suggests that this move may not be enough.

“Over recent years there has been a significant increase in major festivals being staged across the country which has started to impact on the viability of both new and established events with some being cancelled”, states the report. “Others have been scaled back and most are reporting significantly reduced ticket sales as the choice and range of venues and events has increased”.

“It would be unreasonable to assume that the reduction in the land hire charge is the sole determinant as to whether the festival is staged, but Solo has made it clear that unless costs can be reduced the event may not be viable to stage in 2017”, it adds. “Solo have indicated that they need to resolve all their costs by the end of October 2016 in order to make a decision as to whether the 2017 event will go ahead”.

In other words, this decision needs to be made quickly. Though the report also notes that the council’s decision will not be the only factor in the festival’s future, saying: “Solo has confirmed that they are looking to negotiate with all of their suppliers and therefore the decision to stage the event will also be depended on the decisions of others”.

The cancellation of the festival would have a significant impact on the local economy, says the report – last estimated at upwards of £10 million per year in 2009. It also adds that, given the short timescale remaining, it would be difficult to secure a new promoter to stage next year’s festival and for that company to secure the necessary licences, if Solo did pull out.

“It is vital we continue to work closely in partnership with Solo to ensure that the festival continues to thrive and develop, and to continue to bring economic and many other benefits to the island”, Council leader Jonathan Bacon told the Isle Of Wight County Press. “The council’s executive will fully and properly consider the recommendation to revise the terms of the agreement, together with the other options detailed in the report, when it meets on 13 Oct”.