Hastings Fat Tuesday Music Festival 2024 might have to be cancelled
The directors of Hastings Fat Tuesday CIC have announced that their flagship grassroots music festival may not go ahead next year.
A crowdfunder has been launched in order to raise the vital funds which might yet let it happen, albeit in a scaled-back form. You can contribute towards the £10,000 target here
“In order to deliver a festival of any sort in February 2024 significant funds need to be raised to pay the hundreds of artists who take part,” the festival has warned.
In a statement, directors Adam Daly and Sally Lampitt said: “Since its inauguration 14 years ago the five-day festival has established itself as a major event in the town's calendar and one of the largest grassroots music events in the south-east. The festival programmes more than 300 live shows across the five days reaching audiences of more than 27,000. 80 per cent of events remain free, removing financial barriers for all and providing a host of benefits not only to those attending but to the local economy, education sector and of course to the 500+ grassroots musicians and freelancers that take part.
“None of this could happen without significant financial support and while the organisation explores all opportunities to underwrite this work the current financial climate and pull on funding bodies has made it increasingly difficult. This has been exacerbated by the declining cultural support from Hastings Borough Council and their core funder Arts Council England choosing not to fund the organisation at this critical time.
“Arts Council England has recognised the outstanding quality and ambition of the festival, but cited lack of funds as the reason why they are unable to support this year’s event. At a time when ACE announces a much needed 5 million pounds investment in the grassroots music sector it does seem counterintuitive to not support an organisation that has consistently had grassroots music at its heart.
“The closure of local venues and uncertainty around the White Rock Theatre has also impacted decisions. The new custodians of the White Rock Theatre are due to take over the building just nine days before the Festival is due to start which has made the planning of the annual Mardi Gras Ball and other activities untenable.
“With the increasing lack of local funds available from the Council, due in part to the homeless crisis in Hastings and the impact of the cost of living on the local community, it's becoming clear that to support the many freelancers they recruit, musicians who take part plus the small but dedicated team who deliver, even a scaled back event will still require substantial funding support.
“The loss of Hastings Fat Tuesday Music Festival would be seismic for the town impacting an already fragile economic position and a massive loss for audiences, the local freelance industry and especially for the musicians who gain vital experience of live performance.
“While the directors are reviewing all possibilities around the festival it is clear that a full-scale Mardi Gras event will not be possible for 2024. Their focus will be on ensuring that the ongoing work with young people can continue and that despite the current situation Hastings Mardi Gras traditions can carry on.”