Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has confirmed to local newspaper the Liverpool Echo that an investigation is now underway into the utter debacle that was the Hope & Glory festival, which took place in the city a couple of weeks ago.
As widely reported, the second day of the event was called off following excessive queues, over-crowding, artist cancellations, the late running of stages and reports that parts of the site were unsafe on the first day.
Following a crash course in how not to communicate with audiences in a crisis (the cancellation was announced in a tweet that simply said “no festival today”), Promoter Lee O’Hanlon posted an unconventional and rambling statement on the Monday following the event, basically pointing the finger at the event’s production management provider and council officials.
The Gen argues that this statement simply needed to address three issues:
1. Why exactly the event was cancelled.
2. How customers can access refunds and timeframe.
3. Last but certainly not least, an acceptance of responsibility as the license holder and an apology for the cancellation.
Unfortunately, it didn’t address any of these, resulting in further fall-out and ticket agents Skiddle and Eventbrite stepping in to refund customers from their own funds.
The Mayor told the Liverpool Echo: “As the local authority, we will do absolutely everything in our power to fully investigate how Hope & Glory’s organisers got things so wrong. We will draw up a detailed timeline of events and look at how we can ensure that things like this do not happen in the future”.
He added: “From Africa OYE, Fusion, Liverpool Loves and Pride, to our own huge events such as LIMF, the Three Queens, the Giants, Liverpool knows how to run a successful festival. If it was left to us, I’m sure the Hope & Glory festival would have gone without a hitch but, unfortunately, it wasn’t our event and the organisers allowed it to fall apart”.
With this, alongside the weather related cancellation of the final day of Y Not, a narrative is developing in which the media are actively seeking ‘festival failure’ stories – resulting in a lengthy queue at Boomtown Fair becoming a national news story based on tweets.
In the case of Hope and Glory, it’s important to maintain perspective- there are close to 1,000 festivals in the UK, of all shapes and sizes and the majority are organised in a safe, professional manner, underpinned by a robust licensing process.
Critics such as Jon McClure, frontman of Reverend And The Makers, whose band were due to appear at the event, have been quick to claim that declining record sales have left all except music’s equivalent of the 1% fighting for scraps in the festival market, with artists leaving themselves at the mercy of “at best amateurs, at worst gangsters”, masquerading as promoters.
Festival promotion is a fiercely competitive and high-risk business characterised by tight margins, rising expenditure year on year and can take years to break even- cowboy operators looking for a quick buck would leave swiftly and sorely disappointed.
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