Dire sales could spell the end for WemsFest

Mark Ringwood
Mark Ringwood

Organisers of WemsFest 2017 are warning this could be the last festival – unless sales pick up significantly.

Mark Ringwood, founder and artistic director of the Westbourne and Emsworth-based festival, said: “Sales for this year’s WemsFest are, quite frankly, appalling (except for the sold-out show by Fairport Convention) – admittedly not helped by an Emsworth individual who takes great pleasure in removing any posters which are not in shop windows or on HBC sites.

“However, our hard-working but small team have delivered thousands of brochures door to door, and we’ve had great media coverage, yet sales are pathetically small and I seriously question whether the Emsworth area actually wants anything of a cultural nature.

“Maybe the time has come for me to claim my life back and the way to go is to just stage a beer festival.

“Tonight (Thursday) we have the fabulous Irish folk group Dervish performing at the Baptist Church. Their shows sell out everywhere but Emsworth. Next Wednesday the star-packed jazz group The Dime Notes play the same venue and people are travelling from as far afield as Tunbridge Wells to see them, but dismally few from our own area.

“Saturday October 14 sees Carol Laula coming all the way from Glasgow to play at The Spring before 20+ people at present. The following evening Ella Rundle (cello) and Eloisa Fleur (violin) perform a lovely programme of classical music in Westbourne Church – I’ve stuck with promoting classical music since we started but faced with a loss of several hundred pounds it’s just not sustainable.

“Red Dirt Skinners now live in Canada but they’re here for a special show at the lovely Chidham & Hambrook VH on Thursday 19, and the absorbing play What Ivy Wanted rounds the Festival off in four different locations.

“If I sound fed up, it’s because I am WemsFest takes a huge amount of time to organise, and it’s heart-breaking to see such wonderful musicians and actors performing in front of such small audiences.”

Full details on www.wemsfest.com.