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Event finances in dire straits
THE team behind Oxfordshire’s biggest rock music festival have appealed for help in saving the event after news emerged of a “major hole” in its finances.
Truck Festival, which has taken place for 14 years at Hill Farm, Steventon, near Abingdon, has run into trouble after this year’s event made a large loss.
Up to 7,000 people joined the independently-run festival, which took place two weeks ago and featured sets by more than 100 bands and artists, including new-folk band Bellowhead, Radiohead’s Philip Selway, Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, pop-dance act St Etienne, pop-punk band The Young Knives and comedian Richard Herring.
But despite a record attendance and an expanded, re-designed site, organisers brothers Robin and Joe Bennett failed to make a profit, are unable to pay the festival’s creditors, and are seeking urgent help. If they are unable to pay off its losses, the festival will end.
Robin, whose band Dreaming Spires headlined the festival on the Sunday, said reports that the festival had already gone broke were premature, and he was optimistic that it could be saved.
He said: “Things are still a little unclear, but the situation is not looking good. Our revenue has not been adequate to cover the cost of this year’s event and we have been left with a major hole.
“We are a small family business and we cannot sustain that kind of loss, and are now reaching out to find a method of dealing with it.”
Despite the near-capacity crowd at this year’s event, he said takings had been hit by the release of discount tickets and because festival-goers spent less on food and drink than expected.
He said: “We didn’t have enough full-price ticket holders, and bar and food spending, which we hoped would make a contribution to profits, wasn’t high.”
Truck also runs the eco-friendly Wood festival at Braziers Park near Wallingford, and an event at Woodstock in America’s New York state. It is not clear how Truck’s finances will impact on its sister festivals, but it appears they have failed to make enough money to save the annual event in Steventon.
He said the appearance of new festivals in a saturated market had made things harder for established events, like Truck – which started off as a party for friends, using a flat-bed truck as a stage.
Robin said: “We are unpaid and do this for a whole year as a labour of love.
“But the market this year is dire. There are just too many festivals.”
The brothers are now looking at all avenues to shore up the festival and ensure its future.
He said: “We are open to ideas and are looking for an investor – it doesn’t even matter if they are not in the music business. We have made some popular changes to the festival, and it would be well worth an investor coming in. If we can’t, then Truck could be over.”
But he said supporters may set up a rescue fund, and suggested an arrangement could be devised in which Truck fans invested or bought bonds in the festival.