STRONG support was welcomed at a meeting to see if there was any interest in reviving the Monmouth Festival which has been cancelled the last three years.
In 2019 the main stage was cancelled after organisers failed to secure a proposed site on Chippenham and with falling revenue and the difficulty in maintaining support and viability for nine nights of music the committee felt that this was the only acceptable course of action.
2020 saw Covid take its toll and a hoped-for return in 2021 was decided against over concerns about whether such an event will be able to go ahead with the safety and wellbeing of those attending such events paramount.
The meeting at Monmouth’s Riverside hotel last week saw 40 supporters hear from the five former committee members and present directors of the music festival that new blood was needed to bring some life back into the organisation to counter the lack of public support and falling volunteers needed to keep a nine-day festival going.
Facing the room was Mel and James Ralph, Ian Jones, Mark Williamson and Ceris Watts.
Mark said that there was “a big desire” to see the festival return but added the biggest challenge to the organisers was getting enough volunteers.
What was needed was a committee of about 10 to 12 people to run sub committees and pull in volunteers to keep the festival going.
“There is a space for you at the festival,” he added, “If you care, just step up and say”.
Ceris explained that the organising begins in late October to plan ahead for the following year’s event which historically has been the last week in July to the first week in August.
“So if people could put their names forward, not necessarily tonight, to form a committee so we can mentor you going forward”.
The new committee would need to call an AGM within a month to begin the process of booking bands and arranging a stage and sound but didn’t necessarily need to stick to the present formula.
Replying to a question on the most challenging aspects, both Mel and Ian said funding and commitment: “Every year we get people coming up saying they want to be involved, but within a month they have all sloped off,” added Ian.
Mark promised that the former committee members would not leave a new committee in the dark and would offer as much help as possible, “we know what works and what doesn’t”.
Seven people signed up that evening to look to form a committee and it is hope more would come forward in the next week to begin the process of breathing life back into the popular town event.
Mayor of Monmouth Cllr Tom Kirton said although he was couldn’t be on the committee as he was on tow councils but was happy to offer “any experience and expertise I have” and give advice and help to the committee and the chair.
He amazed a few present by revealing he was a sound engineer for 15 years and worked at Glastonbury and Reading and a number of festivals in Europe: “I know the tech side of things and can always come in and give advice”.
Later, Cllr Kirton told the Beacon that it was wonderful to see such a good turn out of people passionate to see a Monmouth music festival return.
“I would hope that a new festival committee would look at potentially a 2-3 day festival that is more financially achievable and be manageable to run for any future volunteers. As the chair of Monmouth Town Council I feel lucky to be part of a very proactive group of councillors who I know will endeavour to support a reinvigorated Monmouth Music Festival.
“Lastly I would like to thank the outgoing committee for all the work they have done over the years to put on amazing musical events for the town,” he added.
Cllr and Deputy Mayor David Evans mirrored those comments saying he was delighted to see such a high level of support for bringing Monmouth Music Festival back to town. “The Town Council have previously supported the festival and personally I look forward to working with the new committee. I would also like to thank the many members of previous committees for their hard work and commitment.,” he added.
Monmouth Music Festival Ltd has three directors, two are in position but both are planning to step down so three directors will also be needed.