THE Musicport Festival in Bridlington has been axed – with organisers blaming the Spa for changing the date of last year’s event which led to poor ticket sales.
Promoters of the annual world music festival – which has hosted such acts as Rolf Harris, The Levellers and Richard Hawley – said the Spa booked comedian Jason Manford on the festival’s preferred date last year.
But council bosses – who run the Spa – have said the liquidation of the Musicport company was to blame, and said the venue would welcome the event returning.
A statement from Musicport organisers to the Free Press said: “All the evidence we have from our database shows that the change of date was overwhelmingly the reason for the drop in ticket sales.
“We believe that the Spa has lost to the area an event that with its national and international profile showcased the venue to its full potential and which had major economic benefits to the town.
“Twelve years of hard work building a critically acclaimed and prestigious event with all its related educational and social benefits has now come to nothing.” Festival organiser Jim McLaughlin confirmed Musicport as a company has now been liquidated.
During its four year tenure in Bridlington, Musicport has become the UK’s largest indoor world music festival
Organisers are now discussing the possibility of putting on a smaller ‘mini-Musicport’ event in Whitby later in the year.
Darren Stevens, head of culture and information at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “Unfortunately, Musicport will not take place in Bridlington this year following the liquidation of the company organising the event.
“The council is disappointed that this high quality event will not feature in the Spa’s 2012 calendar, for reasons outside of its control, especially as both the council and The Spa have invested a huge amount of time, effort and resources into supporting the festival over a number of years.
“In the event that a new, financially sound, Musicport event is developed in the future, we would be very pleased to talk with the organisers of such an event about the possibility of holding it at the Spa.”
Since its inception Musicport has grown rapidly with the 2011 event seeing more than 40 acts from around the world take to the stage including 12lve from the BBC2 series Goldie’s Band.
However organisers said that, although the festival saw continued growth up to 2010, the failure to secure dates during half term week in 2011 led to a slump in ticket sales and as it looked unlikely the event could secure its preferred dates in 2012, the difficult decision was taken to cancel the festival.
Peter Davison, president of the Bridlington Tourism Association, said: “The loss of Musicport could be a big blow for Bridlington. Quite a few hotels will lose business because it brings a lot of people to the town.
“Some guest houses have regulars that come back every year for the event and they’ll lose that now.
“We need to promote the town as best as we can because it has a great deal to offer, and support local events so they can take off and become successes.”