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Bollington Festival History V

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Continued …

Achievements of the Festival and
lessons learnt for the future

Throughout the Festival, the emphasis was very much on enjoyment and participation and large attendances at events (a record crowd of 6,200 watched the “It’s a Knockout” competition), together with the enthusiastic notices of music and drama critics testify to the great success of the 1980 Bollington Festival.

It is probably too soon to gauge the long term achievements of the Festival, but already many requests have been made for a Bollington Pageant to be held more frequently in future – perhaps every two years – and it is hoped to form a Carnival Committee to organise this.

The financial achievements are already to hand. At a meeting of the Festival Committee, it was announced that a splendid profit of over £1,700 had been made, enabling the Committee to return the Bollington Sunday School Trust’s grant of £750 and to donate £500 to local charities, as well as keeping £500 in reserve for the next Festival.

The organisers felt that the main “problem areas” had been the delayed publication of the Festival Brochure and the “Acis and Galatea” production – where difficulties over dates, scenery and seating had caused concern up to the very last minute. It was also noted that the Opening Ceremony of the Festival had unfortunately coincided with the first night of the drama production “Ring Round the Moon” resulting in a disappointingly small audience at the play.

There were certain lessons, therefore, to be learnt for the future. Firstly, it was hoped that even greater care would be taken to ensure that major attractions were not unwittingly timetabled to take place simultaneously. Secondly, it was suggested that the deadline for the submission of material for the Festival Brochure should be strictly observed, so as to allow more time for printing and distribution. Finally it was felt that every effort should be made in the future to engage a local printer for the Festival Brochure; this would enable the Committee to keep a tighter control over its format and to deal quickly with any errors in the proofs.

It is clearly beneficial for an organising committee to meet “after the event” in order to discuss any “points arising” which may be of interest and value for the future.

To me, as an outside observer, particular achievements of the 1980 Bollington Festival were its ability to attract the enthusiasm and support of many people of all ages, the smoothness with which the entire Festival programme proceeded (especially bearing in mind the very large number of events organised) and the splendid overall profit achieved, at a time when many festival organisers in the country are very relieved merely to break even.

Conclusion

In the introduction, I mentioned that one of my aims in writing about a village festival was to see how closely the villagers identified themselves with it. In Bollington’s case, there can be no doubt as to the strength of commitment, throughout the community, to the Festival. Organisations of every conceivable kind, many owing their existence to the Festival Movement, spent months preparing for the 1980 Festival and, when it arrived, it seemed that the whole of Bollington was there to enjoy and participate in the festivities.

How is such whole-hearted commitment achieved? Above all, surely, through the enthusiasm and dedication of one or more individuals who can inspire people of all ages, interests and talents to work together, each making his or her own significant contribution, however great or small. Care must be taken to stretch, but not to overwhelm, individual talent, and here it is advantageous for festival organisers to have an intimate knowledge of the community and an appreciation of people’s capacities and limitations. In Bollington, Dr Coope, the inspiration of the Festival Movement, has known his fellow Bollingtonians, both professionally and personally, over many years and seems instinctively to know how to extend the community’s capacities to the full without being over-ambitious. Consequently, each Festival, although retaining the general format of the first one in 1964, has presented some new challenge which the villagers have met admirably, perhaps surprising themselves in the process, through the discovery of previously untried talents.

Dr. Coope feels that an interval of six years between festivals is about right for Bollington. This allows time, in the intervening period, for new societies and clubs to establish and develop their own identity. A further argument in favour of a six year interval is that people are more willing to accept a challenge if they feel that they have six years in which to prepare for it – and, in some cases, the realisation that it might be the last chance they have of taking an active part helps to spur on reluctant participants.

Enthusiasm, dedication and a comprehensive interest in, and knowledge of, the local community are thus prerequisites of a good festival organiser. Added to this is the need to understand the finer details of planning and preparation – such as when to form a Festival Committee, how to coordinate proposed events, when to start fund raising activities and how to conduct a publicity campaign. Much of this knowledge comes from experience, but professional help and advice may be sought, for example from County Arts Officers.

Bollington is very fortunate in having a Festival Chairman with all these qualities, and a dedicated team to help him. The Festival Movement has not only brought together Bollingtonians old and new, but has also helped to put Bollington on the map as a cultural and sporting centre. Now achieving “vintage status”, as Dr. Coope puts it, the Bollington Festival attracts interest throughout the country and has gained a widespread reputation for its consistently high standard. Nevertheless, the original aim has not been lost. The Festival is still, first and foremost, an occasion “for the ordinary people and ordinary organisations of Bollington.”

Bibliography

Bollington Festival Brochure, 1980
Bollington Festival Committee, When Nancy was Young, 2nd ed., 1980
Broster, W.S., Bollington and Kerridge 1830 – 1980, 1980

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