The Southdowns Music Festival adapts to changing times

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It has survived the pandemic – and now it is surviving the temporary loss of its main venue, the Regis Centre.

The Southdowns Music Festival returns to Bognor Regis for its tenth anniversary year from September 22-24, once again proving that it can survive pretty much anything that life can throw at it. With the Regis Centre closed for refurbishment, Roger Nash, chairman of Southdowns Music Festival, and the team have had to think outside the box, as Roger says. They have opted for marquees instead and actually will still be offering a festival broadly similar in size to usual, just with a reduced number of headline evening concerts. Playing evening concerts this year will be 3 Daft Monkeys on the Friday and The Jigantics on the Saturday (both ticketed concerts in the Ukulele & Music Marquee, Place St Maur). New for this year, the festival is offering the first-ever Southdowns Beer & Cider Festival at Waterloo Square plus the Up & Coming Stage on Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24 at the Place St Maur. Both these new events are free plus the Shanty Showdown, craft markets, Southdowns Ukulele Festival, music sessions, dance programme and lots more.

Roger is confident: “It's our tenth anniversary year this year which would have been last year but Covid intervened. We're putting on the festival from September 22-24 in very different circumstances without the Regis Centre. It means that the festival will this year be very much more focused on Place St Maur next to the Regis Centre and also in the town centre and other parts of the town. We've had to think differently and I think it's going to work. The Regis Centre is now closed to the public but they're very kindly helping us with some equipment and then on Saturday and Sunday we're going to have the up and coming stage that will feature acts that wouldn't normally get the chance to play. So this year there is perhaps more concentration on local acts and we've got a number of other venues as well including The Lamb and The William Hardwicke and new for this year for us The Bonito Lounge and also The Dog & Duck. The only thing really that is different is that we don't have the same number of headline acts that we usually have but we've got a good dance programme in the town centre and by the sea front and we've also got a much bigger Shanty Showdown where different shanty groups come to perform in different venues in town on the Saturday and Sunday.

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“Who would have thought we would still be going after ten years? It surprises me yes and no but there are in a lot of people that have put in a lot of hard work over the years. At times the financial side has taken a bit of a knock but we're still here and we're hoping that we can certainly keep going for a while. What we have achieved over the years is that we have established the festival as a regular part of the town's calendar. We have raised the profile of the town and we have improved the town’s image. And we've got a lot more people coming to Bognor that wouldn't have come otherwise, I do think that that’s a real achievement.”