Changes to 2019 Broadstairs Folk Week put in place to deal with three-year deficit

Folk Week Photo Adam Dark

Broadstairs Folk Week organisers say they are tackling a three-year deficit through a number of changes to the festival.

Former Thanet councillor Ian Driver published details from the public accounts that show the event has made losses of £42,891 during the last three year period, with reserves at £28,000 rather than the £85,000 that should be in place at the start of each planning year in September.

The annual folk celebration, now in its 54th year, costs some £250,000 to stage around 500 events. The cost includes two staff salaries, office and insurance as well as the staging, hiring venues and associated fees.

Fun at the Folk Week grand parade Photo Frank Leppard

A survey undertaken in 2009 estimated that, in addition to the money that Folk Week generates for itself, it also attracts around £2.3million of additional revenue that goes directly in to the local economy – restaurants, hotels, B&Bs, pubs and shops. This doesn’t include the money that Folk Week spends on items such as hiring venues and accommodation and employing local contractors.

The charity says changes have been made to this year’s event to try and make it financially viable.

These include axing the concert marquee in Pierremont Park with main concerts taking place in existing town venues such as The Pavilion and Queen’s Road Baptist Church.

A report to stakeholders says the concert marquee has always been a net loss to the festival, and could only deliver a net surplus if it was sold out at almost every afternoon and evening concert, which is not a realistic target.

The craft fair has also had an overhaul.

The report states: “We have had a number of deficit years which have eaten in to our reserves. We have taken a number of actions since the end of last year’s festival to address this – replacing the marquee concerts with concerts in existing town venues, refreshing and revitalising the craft fair, implementing the 200 Club, running a virtual shop, running a mini festival in January and undertaking various other fundraising events under the control of a fundraising sub-committee.

“This should give us a financially viable model, but this won’t be certain until September. We need a number of years of surplus years to build our reserves back up to their previous level which will enable us to operate each year in a secure financial position.

“It is unlikely that we will ever become fully self-sufficient, so we will continue to rely on the invaluable support of our Friends, sponsors, supporters and grant providers.”

The Folk Week charity says the deficit is caused for a number of reasons, including a dramatic drop in the grants available,  increased costs and a number of competing events that were not being staged when the festival began.

The report adds: “As a charity, we have to be financially responsible, and ensure that any money we spend is directly linked to our charitable objects. However, we completely recognise the fact that Folk Week is a major cultural event for the area, and is welcomed by most of the people in the town. Consequently, we have a difficult balancing act – ensuring we are financially sound whilst maintaining the unique atmosphere that Folk Week generates.

“In addition, we are fully committed to keeping Folk Week as a town-based festival, bringing ticket holders and casual visitors alike into the heart of Broadstairs, rather than running the festival on an enclosed, ticket-holders only site.”

Organisers hope to be able to encourage new sponsors, attract volunteers with specific skills, such as accounting, and maintain self-funding levels.

The report says: “Some years ago, we had an outside specialist organisation undertake a festival “health check”, which compared our finances, operation and management against other similar sized festivals.

Broadstairs Folk Week

“Amongst the key points from that survey was the fact that around 75% of our income is self-generated through ticket sales, collections, fund-raising events, merchandise sales, rather than through grants. This compares to a national average of 49%.

“Our intention is to maintain this level of self-funding into the future – however, it is not realistic, given our commitment to being town-based and also being mindful of the sensitivity of our audience to ticket pricing, to target being fully self-funded. Consequently, we will continue to be reliant on the valuable support that we get from all of our supporters.”

Broadstairs Folk weeks runs from August 9-16. Find out more here


  1. You have lost several of your regular stall holders because of you inability to be flexible with camping on site behind stalls etc.This is finances that cannot be replaced.except by finding alternative stall holders.This would be difficult due to the need to be there for a week.

  2. I question whether they genuinely want volunteers outside of the event week. I have offered my services and contacts and almost had a door shut in my face.

  3. So why not ask pubs etc to donate funds to it, they obviously make lots on the back of it, they seem to be freeloading

  4. Perhaps these financial difficulties are divine retribution for the “institutional racism” (Ian Driver’s words) of the blackface Morris dancers who take part in Folk Week..

        • My personal opinion is Broardstairs Folk week has been downgraded. Parking charges and Stall prices have not. If I’m allowed to spend my money where I like…..It won’t be at Broadstairs.

  5. When you say that Ian Driver “revealed” the accounts problems, you make it sound as though he’s spent hours of dedicated research into some arcane secret.
    All he did was publish the freely and publically available data to be found on the Charity Commissioners web site.

  6. Folk week is a fantastic event for Broadstairs and business and we are in danger of it diminishing if we as a community do not support it. It’s just one week in the year. Yes it’s noisy and rowdy and a few spoil it for the many but let’s not lose it or make it less entertaining.
    Perhaps we could negotiate dates to avoid competition with the Margate soul event? Re-introduce the fireworks and revert the Saturday procession to the evening again? All these have effected Folk week negatively. The organisers do a wonderful job and hopefully we can give them our full support.

    • what about local residents .have to put up with parking issues.cant park even near my FW organizers even care that MANY locals hate FW not to mention crap music



      • Personal taste in music does not come into it. There are plenty of kinds of music I don’t like – so I don’t go to listen to them. Clearly. a lot of people do enjoy Folk Week, and at least some locals enjoy- if not the crowds and the music- the revenue it brings to Broadstairs.

    • The evening parade was a nightmare, people running in and out of the parade trying to get the torches out of our hands, scary!

  7. Folk Week has outgrown Broadstairs. As it has become more successful, it’s obviously become bigger, hence more expensive to run.
    It was once a interesting, intimate, slightly quirky festival showcasing some weird and wonderful acoustic music.
    Now it’s a sprawl of average bands no better than those you would find in a pub on a Friday night.

  8. Regardless of anyone’s personal tastes the vibrancy of this and any town is what attracts people and businesses and leads to a sense of community. Lose these types of evens and you’ll end up with yet another town with boarded up shops and a place that only betting shops, charity shops and homeless people frequent. Broadstair is verging on this even now with numerous charity shops, ‘vape’ shops and bookies. A loss of this and other such events will just hasten the demise.

  9. Why does everything have to revolve around making money or making things pay? Isn’t it enough that the folk week brings pleasure to thousands of people’s lives albeit only for a week. Sometimes people just want to have a little fun.

    • It dosent bring pleasure to many locals, fun??? its a nightmare. Dread it the last few years. Maybe have it as a weekend rather than a week. This may solve financial and other issues. I like many other locals would love to enjoy it, the early mornings are not too bad but it just gets out of hand as the day goes on.

      • You live at the seaside. Surely you know that people will come to visit whether for the sun and sand or dedicated festivals. I live in central London – thank goodness for the tourists and visitors.

  10. So many negative comments. Unbelievable. I come from Hertfordshire to enjoy Folk Week.

    The “institutional racism” comment is ridiculous. Look in to the history of it. It is based on workers from the mines, who would have been covered in coal dust.

    Broadstairs as a town is unique, because of Folk Week. The revenue it generates keeps the businesses in the town going. With Folk Week, you would find that the provisions you enjoy will rapidly decline (like other small town and villages).

    As far as the parking goes, alot of the streets are permit only, so you can’t use that as an excuse.

    I am volunteering for the week this year, some of you should do the same. Then you might see the real Folk Week, rather than the very narrow picture your tunnel vision is giving you. I will be out with a tin trying to raise money for YOUR community. Some of you should be doing the same, seeing as you see the benefits of it.

    • Please show me the permit only parking places? So glad you are embracing folk week. I and my neighbours will be mopping up the vomit and other fluids so sorry too busy to rattle a tin. It has just got out of hand maybe if it was in your town you would understand. Broadstairs is a unique seaside town not just because of folk week. It is busy all year some other events exist in the town which are lovely and busy but dont attract the same behaviour. Enjoy our town and the week….lets hope it goes off without any trouble.

    • David is right about the history of blackface Morris, of course – it is strongly associated with the folk tradition of disguising oneself when taking part in subversive activity.

  11. Love Folkweek! Come to it every year. Fantastic musicians – hope it continues for many years to come.

  12. Folk week is dieing I have been attending for over a decade and if compare the program now to one ten years ago an you see lots of the same faces and performer.
    The workshops are a good selling point if run by competent teachers this is not always the case.
    The groups in the pubs are what you would expect PUB BANDS but a number of pubs book entertainment themselves.
    With the cost of a ticket and camping at approx £240 each I expect more.
    New Forest Folk Festival 5 days camping with three days of good music with proper headliners Osterband Steeley sorry but Broadstairs is to expensive.
    For players venue are often full to overflowing and your face must fit. You can get better by listening or playing with people in the shelter just join in no higher arky or need for your face to fit just play tunes.
    Will this years changes make a difference I hope so but I won’t hold my breath

  13. As a frequent visitor to Broadstairs. I am sad to see the diminishing folk week. Prices are kept high but attractions are poorer! The old adage of “The price of everything and the value of nothing” comes to mind. Don’t think I’ll bother next year.

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