UPDATED STATEMENT (Original Below)
Thank you to everyone for the supportive and encouraging messages over this last week, since we announced a break in 2018. We feel genuinely appreciated! x
It was not our intention to start a social media war, simply to explain why we as a team feel the need to take a break, and to explain the reasons for that, as we knew there would be some disappointment.
There are always challenges putting any event on, and you expect questions, some debate and to deal with some difficult personalities over the weekend. But we have also had a more challenging (and certainly not supportive) time with Tenterden Town Council, this year too. We felt that needed to be said as well.
We have just been sent the statement that Tenterden Town Council felt they needed to put out. It looks like you may have won us a voice!
1) The statement implies that Ashford Borough Council imposed the noise restrictions on us. When they were actually called in by Tenterden Town Council. ABC assisted in us reaching a compromise.
2) These new sound restrictions did cause complaints – but for us. Attendees complained that from sitting just halfway back on the rec (the closest they could get) they couldn’t hear the music. Our soundesk was also approached throughout the day about this. We are a Music Festival – which in itself makes any decision on noise far more impactful on us than any other ‘public event’, so the justification about us being treated like all other events shows a lack of understanding or professional evaluation of this event. All of this – without any consultation with us.
The conditions in the new terms don’t even comply with the noise council’s Code of Practice on Environmental Noise Control at Concerts, which recommend that venues holding more than 3 days of events a year have a recommended limit of 15dB(A) above the recorded background noise – which from our tests was 62dB(A) on the 29th June in Sandy Lane so would suggest an upper limit of 77dB(A) not the 65dB(A) stipulated in our new terms of hire.
3) The points about money are far less important to us now. But we have fought hard every year to raise the money to stage the event, with local groups like The Tuesdays helping enormously to that end. After years of applying to TTC for funds to support us, our requests for additional funding were consistently voted down by councillors.
We have been treated in a lofty and dismissive manner, for instance being summoned to the council last August for a dressing down like children in a headmaster’s office – without a single word of thanks or encouragement – just criticism. We were insulted to find that having taken time off work to attend, Cllr Roy Isworth used his position as a councillor to personally attack us for not sticking to advertised timings, when he even had the wrong stage times in front of him. This in front of Cllr Pam Smith, who is now our representative, who did nothing to counter his anger. Only Cllr Hannett (since resigned) apologised for our treatment and Cllr Isworth’s behaviour.
This was followed by a highly unprofessional ‘bombshell’ dropped on us 3 months before the event – a new contract of hire telling us we had to change our site layout, sound levels and finish times. Totally disregarding the points we made previously. No regard for us as volunteers trying to manage and argue (again!) the reasons why the new conditions would not work. We thought at one stage that we would have to cancel the event and incur huge cancellation charges.
4) The offer to pay half of the bill for toilet cleaning is, we feel, a fully expected gesture from the council. In fact, they should be picking up the entire bill. We pay for all additional toilets. And we pay entirely for Biffa to come in and clean up the site, along with us and our volunteers. However, the council groundsman, Lee Jarvis, is invaluable in his hard work and support and feels like one of our team over the course of the event.
5) The power supply used is utilised by a lot of the businesses, charities, community groups and free toddler crafts on site. (The stage is run by its own generator). So again, we feel it is the least that could be offered to support them.
We give up annual leave, lots of our own time, and dedicate work and creativity into producing an event for all. Why are we treated like pariahs? Not a single councillor wanted to make contact or have any kind of role liaising with us, as is clearly recorded at the Town Hall meeting.
This is not a plea for money – but for the respect, understanding, co-operation and assistance that organising an event of this size should receive. Not the derision, indifference, or obstacles we have endured up until now.
A future meeting is probably a good idea (without the headteacher attitude) – but TTC has still not accepted responsibility for these issues, nor apologised for the way we have been treated. Maybe because we are volunteers? We can only assume that companies like the Peterborough based professional events company that run the Food and Drink Festival for them are not subject to the same attitudes.
First of all we’d like to thank everyone who has supported this event over the years. It’s been a blast!
It has been a true pleasure for us to meet so many amazing bands, budding artists, businesses, community groups, charities, music lovers, dancing toddlers, curious dogs, funky painted-faces, seriously professional picnickers, passionate volunteers and plain ol’ party people.
For us as organisers this last festival was a bittersweet mixture of spectacular success, with a truly great atmosphere EVERY DAY, and a huge personal and professional challenge. We started the event somewhat worn down and embattled by complaints, red tape and sniggering and juvenile behaviour from ‘officials’ throughout the year – which left us less resilient to the instances of abusive and sometimes threatening behaviour we often endure but don’t publicise.
As volunteers who have busy family lives and day jobs to contend with, the work that goes in to planning, applying, liaising over and then staging Tentertainment eats into a lot of our limited time and energy levels. For that reason we have all agreed that we do need to take a well-earned break.
So we will use 2018 to consider the impact on a music festival of the new plans for the recreation ground, the new terms and conditions for hiring the recreation ground – and the ongoing ‘battle’ that seems to be happening in the town regarding noise and events generally. Therefore, we will put out dates for Tentertainment 2019.
We believe that the wants and feelings of many people in the town are not accurately or adequately represented where they should be. Consideration should of course be given to everyone – but decisions should be weighted correctly and reflect the views of the vast majority, too. Councillors are there to represent and speak up for all of the people within their jurisdiction – not speak for just a few, or say nothing when they should speak up, just to avoid the risk of unpopularity with their peers. This ain’t personal guys, it’s about the public having a say in how things are managed in their own town.
So for now, from the TT team, this is not goodbye – but see you all in 2019! xxxx
*Start wishing for good weather*