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Will red tape spell end of free Swanage Blues Festival?
THE organiser of a popular Purbeck music festival held at the weekend is keeping his fingers crossed the event will be able to continue paying for itself.
Swanage Blues Festival has always been funded by donations, but Steve Darrington has reluctantly had to introduce an admission charge.
“This one was very important. It was the 18th one I’ve done. We’ve always funded the festival with bucket collections. Because I’m in a wheelchair, I’ve needed people to go around with the buckets,” he explained.
“New legislation means when you have volunteers, they are treated the same as employees. I would have had to have employers’ insurance and put them through induction. The red tape has become so complex and expensive that I can’t afford to have volunteers. What started as a party where people have a nice time turned into a bureaucratic nightmare. Obviously there have to be rules and regulations in life, but when things become unmanageable, you have to take different actions. This year we’ve asked people to buy a wristband for £10 to cover the whole weekend.”
The festival takes place in October and March. More than 100 musicians took part in last weekend’s, playing more than 40 gigs at 15 venues.
“Within 200 yards you can go to 10 different venues. It certainly makes it unique,” said Steve. “Some people come from Australia and New Zealand. It has a worldwide reputation. Everybody gets equal billing.
“We don’t have superstars, but there’s a huge wealth of talent out there that you won’t see on television screens.”