Folk on the Pier is on the move

RICHARD BATSON A major music festival is migrating inland after eight years by the seaside in a bid to get out of the red.

RICHARD BATSON

A major music festival is migrating inland after eight years by the seaside in a bid to get out of the red.

Cromer's Folk on the Pier event is moving off the pier and out of Cromer next spring.

It is moving lock, stock and real ale barrel to the recently-renovated Northrepps Cottage venue, which has a function room, grounds for a marquee and nearby camping sites.

The switch comes after the festival had built up a big following at Cromer with its mixture of roots music and resort atmosphere.

Organiser Scott Butler said it would be a wrench, but was needed to reduce the festival's costs.

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"Artists, the crew and I will miss being on the pier, along with some of the regular visitors - a few of whom have said they won't come any more.

"But there are many more regulars who say they know it will still be a good festival and will support it."

The move was necessary to cut the £40,000 overheads of the event, which last year included £23,000 for acts, £4,000 for accommodation and £3,000 for the pavilion theatre.

Mr Butler said the pier theatre was "a luxury I can no longer afford". He has also switched two other music gigs next spring - a rhythm and blues event and a concert by Fairport Convention to launch a new CD raising funds for Cromer lifeboat.

Earlier this year, Mr Butler warned the folk festival was in danger of being dropped unless there was more sponsorship support from the local community to help cover the costs.

"Sadly there was no such offer," he added, so he is scrapping the event and relocating it to Northrepps, where it will be called the Poppyland Folk and Roots Musical festival.

Mr Butler is personally £15,000 out of pocket through promoting the festivals, and has sounded warning shots before - including two years ago when the event's tight shoestring budget was stretched when it was forced to move into a clifftop marquee because winter renovations of the pavilion were not finished in time.

Many of the folk music acts were so dismayed with the current situation they were offering to play for minimal fees to help him recoup some of his losses, added Mr Butler.

The new-look event will run from May 11-13, headlined by one of Scotland's top acts, the Battlefield Band.

Mr Butler said it would be a "refreshing change".

While the Cottage did not seat as many people at the pavilion there was better parking for customers and acts, campsites within walking distance, and grounds which could take a real ale marquee.

There was also the opportunity to host fringe events at nearby Overstrand and Cromer, and Mr Butler asked potential venues to contact him - but stressed they would have to be self-funding.

There was also the possibility of a "hopper" bus to ferry people from Cromer.

Pier managers Openwide International were "disappointed" by the withdrawal, having given help to Mr Butler as a private hirer, but they pledged to plug the gap in the programme with concerts or other shows, said spokesman Bruce

Stratton.

For more information contact Mr Butler on 01263 579715 or e-mail scott@deckchairproductions.co.uk

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