Promise of 'revamped and revised' Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival

Colne Town Council has released a new statement outlining their future hopes for the town's iconic Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival, which they say had become "unsustainable" in its current form.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 10:48 pm
Crowds at a previous festival

The town council, which has responsibility for running the popular festival, last week voted to permanently cancel it and instead replace it with a slimmed down version.

The decision caused uproar among Colne residents and businesses, as well as music fans from miles around.

A petition was launched to save the festival, which attracts thousands of visitors to the town every August bank holiday weekend, but the town council has tonight explained its decision in more detail, and its plans for the future.

Mary Thomas, chairman of the town council, said: "It has been reported that the Blues festival has been axed. This is incorrect. The decision made at the council meeting this week was to discontinue holding a Blues Festival in its current form. It was also resolved to hold a revamped and revised festival at the August Bank Holiday weekend 2022.

"It has become clear over the three years that Colne Town Council has run the festival that it has become unsustainable in its current form. The council are aware that many people enjoy the Blues festival, especially on its “fringe” at the local pubs and bars and the street atmosphere it brings to the town and we are working to ensure this continues

"However, ticket sales for the main stages have been falling year on year. In addition, the buyers for the ticketed venues have overwhelmingly been from an older demographic and we have been unable to attract a younger audience in enough numbers and purchase tickets for the 2 venues as we had hoped.

"At the same time in the intervening years since taking over the running of the Blues Festival, the Town Council have taken on more services from the Borough Council to ensure their continued preservation, one example being Alkincoates Park, which has inevitably meant the number of staff hours available to run the festival have reduced.

"Going forward, we are working hard to ensure that Colne will continue to hold the Blues festival next Bank Holiday and still maintaining the spirit and the genre of the Blues and the “fringe” running alongside. Plans are being worked on with the ideas and options to sustain the festival for next year and hopefully, many years to come.

"The council are holding a meeting at the Municipal Hall on Tuesday October 12th which is large enough to allow people to come and have their say and give us their views. Please attend if you have any ideas or concerns which we will try to address and answer."