Marlborough's new music festival may be called 'Marlborough Rising'
An emphasis on younger audiences with a wider selection of music styles - that was the basic recipe for a new style of music festival for the town that Robin Pritchard presented to Marlborough Town Councillors before their meeting on Monday (November 6).
Though not a final decision, the festival may start out under the title "Marlborough Rising". He told marlborough.news: "If we get it right it will put some pride back into Marlborough."
As a former member of the Marlborough International Jazz Festival committee and an experienced event organiser, he knows all about the difficulties of attracting sponsors and getting a good range of top flight artists - a chicken-and-egg process: "We start with a blank bank balance."
Working with a small team that includes former Jazz Festival organiser Susie Fisher and David Dudley (representing the retailers), they promised to put a more detailed plan to the last Full Council meeting of the year on December 11.
Their motto for the first festival will be "Keep it simple and do it very well first time out."
They are in discussion with Wiltshire Council - specifically about road closures. They have been told quite firmly that the likelihood of closing the High Street during the day is 'at best remote': "Wiltshire Council's mandate is to keep the highways open.".
And if they could close the High Street, as the Town Clerk pointed out, under new rules they would have to pay the day's lost parking at £20 a space.
Robin Pritchard thinks Wiltshire may agree to a closure of the High Street from 5pm on the Saturday evening. He would welcome this as it would help create an atmosphere through the evening and be good for local restaurants.
Pritchard told the story of a visitor stopping him in the High Street on a Jazz Festival Saturday and asking "Where's the jazz festival?" He believes "The festival needs a centre - a heart beat - and The Parade and its approaches provide a natural arena."
Wiltshire Council are broadly in favour of closing The Parade for the festival and the organisers will be talking to the Fire Station and residents about how the closure could be put into effect.
With that as a centre, the Priory Garden marquee and other traditional sites for music would be kept.
With 2018 looming closer, there was some discussion with councillors on the best time of year for the new festival. Robin Pritchard is favouring early September, but one councillor thought sticking to July would be best. He cited a clash in July with MantonFest and has found that top artists are more available at the end of the summer season.
There was a little astonishment when Robin Pritchard said he thought an 80s music theme would bring in the crowds. He quickly reassured councillors that jazz would be central - but he wanted to include, rock, folk and ultimately some classical music.
To encourage local cafés and restaurants to take part, the festival would have a new emphasis on food - that, the involvement of schools and street theatre would change the game plan and encourage younger audiences.