Exmouth Festival 2018 - what we know so far

PUBLISHED: 15:13 08 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:37 08 March 2018

Exmouth Festival 2017. Picture: Paul Strange.

Exmouth Festival 2017. Picture: Paul Strange.

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Exmouth Festival 2018 is coming up at the end of May. In an extended news feature, the Journal offers a peek at what’s planned for this year’s 10-day event...

Exmouth Festival 2017. Picture: Paul Strange.Exmouth Festival 2017. Picture: Paul Strange.

This year’s Exmouth Festival is on the starting blocks.

Carla Hiley – Exmouth’s Arts Manager – has confirmed this year’s festival will be another 10-day event, starting on Friday, May 25, and running through until Sunday, June 3.

As in the last two years, the festival will begin with four days of free musical events with big headliners supported by local acts performing on a large stage on the Imperial Rec’ Ground.

A big named act – still under wraps – will appear on Saturday, May 26, with a diverse range of headliners for the other three evenings. As in previous 
years there will be stalls, refreshments and other attractions on the site.

Toyah Willcox at the Exmouth Festival 2017. Picture: Paul Strange.Toyah Willcox at the Exmouth Festival 2017. Picture: Paul Strange.

After that it’s a slightly different shape to the festival.

Instead of a festival programme in the Manor Gardens, lower-key events will take place in different venues around town, offering something for families during the half-term break. These plans are still being discussed.

West Country Traditions Day – the event that celebrates folk, crafts, Morris and more, and which had been in The Strand – will switch to the Imperial Rec’ ground for the final weekend. Free during the day, there will be ticketed evening events, including a ‘Rolle College’ reunion. This will feature established folk acts, such as Phil Henry and Hannah Martin, who have a strong connection to the former Rolle College.

And the festival may continue during the summer, with Sunday all-day performances, possibly sited on the temporary space vacated by the closed Family Fun Park on Queen’s Drive, ahead of East Devon District Council’s seafront plans.

Local band The Barefoot Bandit on Sunday night at the Exmouth Festival on the Imperial Rec' Ground. The crowd - estimated to be at least 6,000 people - also enjoyed sets by Joey the Lips and headliner Toyah Willcox.Local band The Barefoot Bandit on Sunday night at the Exmouth Festival on the Imperial Rec' Ground. The crowd - estimated to be at least 6,000 people - also enjoyed sets by Joey the Lips and headliner Toyah Willcox.

All in all, it adds up to slightly different Exmouth Festival for 2018.

“The Imperial Rec ground opens up more possibilities than the Manor Gardens,” says Carla Hiley. “It’s exciting to try and fill it – you get bigger names, something different to what we have in Exmouth’s pubs all year round.

“It’s about how we build that festival atmosphere, which was easy to create in Manor Gardens. The Imperial Rec has more of a festival feel, and I think people are happy to put their wellies on and come out dancing in the rain.”

DONATIONS NEEDED

Crowds at the Exmouth Festival 2017. Picture: Paul Strange.Crowds at the Exmouth Festival 2017. Picture: Paul Strange.

Audience donations need to be increased, says Carla Hiley, Exmouth’s Arts Manager, if Exmouth Festival is going to continue to remain a free event.

And this year she wants people to pay what they feel the entertainment is worth.

“We can’t do the festival on a 10p donation,” she says. “Please pay what you can, what you can afford and what you think it was worth.

“If your family has been entertained all day, think how much that would cost you somewhere else.”

Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 6991. Picture: Simon Horn.Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 6991. Picture: Simon Horn.

In 2016, the Festival received £13.000 in donations – due to having 1980s hit ska band Bad Manners on the Friday night – but this fell to £11,000 last year, with rain affecting the turnout for Toyah on the Sunday night.

“The more money we have, the more money we can spend next year on bigger names, paying more local artists to do more activities, more workshops and whatever.”

WHO WILL BE THE HEADLINING ACT?

Who will be the big headliner at the Exmouth Festival 2018?

Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 7002. Picture: Simon Horn.Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 7002. Picture: Simon Horn.

And, following Bad Manners in 2016 and Toyah last year, will it be another 1980s hit act?

“I’m keeping quiet about it until I’ve signed contracts,” says Carla Hiley, Exmouth’s Arts Manager.

“We don’t want to be an 1980s’ festival,” she says. “However, to get a name that attracts the audience numbers we’ve been getting and to be affordable, it only leaves it open to ’80s’ acts. This year they are really credible musicians, and a quite interesting act.

“The biggest name will be on the Saturday, but the Sunday headliner will be as good, but probably not as well known.”

Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 7005. Picture: Simon Horn.Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 7005. Picture: Simon Horn.

Local acts will be part of the supporting band package.

“People are excited that we’re bringing in big names to Exmouth for free.

“Local bands who are playing alongside these acts are definitely excited by it. It helps them.”

NEW SPONSORS SOUGHT

Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 6957. Picture: Simon Horn.Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 6957. Picture: Simon Horn.

As in previous years, sponsorship remains vital to ensure the continuing success of the Exmouth Festival. Carla Hiley – Exmouth’s Arts Manager – is urgently seeking sponsors.

She’s hoping to hear from large, medium and small businesses, who wish to promote their products to a potential audience of what she says is 50,000 people over the 10-day event.

“If businesses want to pay for a day on the stage, or a particular band, or the toilets, they can,” she says. “We can do messages on stage, or put it on social media… we’ve got so many outlets and such a big following now, we could be useful for local brands.

“If there was a local company that had an agenda, I’m sure the festival could meet and tick all their boxes.

Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 6894. Picture: Simon Horn.Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 6894. Picture: Simon Horn.

“And with people that are all happy and enjoying themselves, why wouldn’t you want your brand being seen there?”

For sponsorship enquires, email Carla at: artsmanager@exmouth.gov.uk

MONEY IS WISELY SPENT

Spending the Exmouth Festival donations wisely on the following year’s entertainment is a big responsibility.

Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 6963. Picture: Simon Horn.Bad Manners at the Exmouth Festival on Friday evening. Ref exe 22-16SH 6963. Picture: Simon Horn.

“There’s £11,000 of tax payers’ money in the donation bucket,” says Carla Hiley, Exmouth’s arts manager.

“If you speak to any of the musicians who are being paid, I am tight with the money, and I do spend it wisely and I do think what people get is good value for money.

“So there’s a responsibility in that respect, and then there’s a responsibility to artists that I bring decent-sized audiences, that the sound is good, it looks good and we can promote their work.

“This year is probably the best line-up we’ve ever had. I went for something a bit different on one of the nights, and I think it will be a nice, refreshing surprise.”

Exmouth Festival 2017. Picture: Paul Strange.Exmouth Festival 2017. Picture: Paul Strange.

The festival site will also be tweaked.

“Some stalls are going to change. It’s just making sure we’re keeping that quality.”

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