An admissions admission!

I’d like to think that, amongst the friends I’ve made in life, and particularly amongst the friends I’ve made through my relatively short and occasionally disengaged online life, that I could definitely include the erstwhile blogger @Filrd [don’t worry, I’ll get less sycophantic very quickly!].  An online community may meet once in a blue moon, but the meeting of minds can be a far more frequent occurence.  But there was a moment, back in July 2012, just as we were getting stuck into the planning of Birmingham Beer Bash, when I got really wound up by a relatively innocuous paragraph in a post Phil had written extolling the (undisputable) virtues of the Hawkshead brewery festival that had just taken place.

Looking back now, there’s a hint of the prophetic about it.  Remember that this was before Leeds and Manchester had burst onto the “alternative beer festival” scene just a few months later.  Many more months before Craft Beer Rising and London’s Brewing had provided their own take on the concept, and about a year before Liverpool and finally Birmingham got in on the act.  Why prophetic?  Well, Phil said “Further top marks for the inclusion of a keg bar, YES you read that correctly a KEG BAR at a festival”.

But look at what followed in the next 12 months!  I’d like to hope though, that the readership of this blog wouldn’t mistakenly assume that that was the sentiment I disagreed with.  There was a little bit of a sting in the tail – “with FREE entry too, how novel”.

Bloody hell!  Is this where the bar is now set at?  In setting up a new festival to challenge the old order, do we have to do all of this without even charging for admission?  I’ll be honest, I felt a kick in the teeth, and another one somewhat lower down.  Over the following months, as we looked at the sums involved in putting together a festival, in fact just looking at the cost of hiring a venue, it all felt a bit futile.  Until October.  Until IndyMan.  An event that did the sort of thing what *we* wanted to do, in a way that felt us feel a bit inferior to be honest.  Suddenly the challenge of doing this all without an entry charge went away.  Clearly there *was* a price to be paid for attending a truly amazing festival.  We just had to make sure ours was also (nearly) as amazing.

And, to be fair, I think we may just have done that.

So why, you may ask, is this all coming out now?  Well, it’s been a funny old day, in which the issue of admission charges has been high on my agenda.  I’ll make no pretence of it, we had a bit of a nightmare over our ticketing for the Birmingham Beer Bash.  Naturally we knew we had to prove ourselves, so cost was a big factor.  Perhaps even more important than that was cash flow.  So we made a decision that we had to stick with, through thick and thin.  It proved problematic at best, and verged on disasterous on the event days, but I’d like to think that most people who attended the Bash had no idea about just how much trouble ticketing had caused us.

Let’s be honest, we can’t say for sure that there will be a Beer Bash 2.  Not yet, anyway.  If there is though, I think I can safely say that tonight we may have established who our future ticketing partner is.  And also discovered, thanks to belated news from the High Court, who they won’t be!

 

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3 Comments to “An admissions admission!”

  1. Right then, so it’s a bloody punch-up you’re after are you? Come on then, outside reet now… 😉

  2. In all seriousness Dave, there’s no need for you to get all hot under the collar, which I know you won’t, ’twas a throwaway comment and I certainly don’t expect anyone to put on an event like BBB without an entrance fee.

    It’s a while since I wrote the piece, but I think what I was getting at is the festivals (and there are many) that charge big bucks on the premise of bands & the obligatory beer jug, but then fail to deliver the goods in terms of the beers to put in it. Stoke CAMRA feat being a prime local example where 90% of the beers “showcased” are usually Wetherspoon standards with no thought to the new breweries etc.

    Charging entry is fine by me as long as its worth it once I’m a captive audience?

    Cheers dude

    • You don’t need to worry, in rational moments even back then I could completely agree with you, but at the same time it was an important challenge that stayed with me – any event needs to offer value for money and when you don’t know what to expect when you’re through the door you can’t be expected to pay through the nose just to find out. The last twelve months has shown what you *can* expect but to be fair it has also shown in at least one case that success isn’t automatic.

      Now, about this fight…

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