Rescheduled finale puts Chichester Festivities’ future in jeopardy

Chichester Festivities will ‘in all probability’ be facing liquidation if the summer arts festival doesn’t get enough people back for its rearranged fireworks concert.

This year’s fireworks finale at Goodwood racecourse was cancelled on July 14 with just hours to go because of waterlogged car parks.

Within days, the Festivities had managed to reschedule the event with all the original performers for Friday, September 28. But legal advice has confirmed that the Festivities are obliged to offer refunds.

And the stark reality is that if too many people take up the offer, the Festivities – after a disappointing year overall – may well go out of business.

Mike Twinley, from Bognor Regis, branded the threat of liquidation as ‘outrageous’. He bought five tickets for the fireworks concert before it was cancelled.

He will be asking for a refund of three tickets as the people who were originally going have gone back to Singapore.

He added: “The details of the refund system came with a huge threat that the organisation could go into liquidation if a lot of people ask for refunds. We may get 60 per cent or so of the costs back but it could be nine months or more before this occurred.”

Graham Ireland, from Pagham, was also left angered because he had heard nothing about a refund after learning he and three others could not make the re-scheduled date.

Chichester Festivities chairman Ian Farman confirmed: “The cancellation on July 14 has left Chichester Festivities Ltd in a very serious financial position, to the extent that if a substantial number of ticket-holders do seek refunds, we shall be unable to meet all our liabilities and in all probability will have to go into liquidation.

“In this situation we estimate only between 60 and 70 per cent of our liabilities can be met, so ticket refunds would regrettably not be made in full.

“In addition, in our current position, we are by law prevented from actually paying back to ticket-holders the amount available for the refund until we have considered the claims of all potential creditors.

“In the event of an insolvent liquidation this is likely to take some considerable time – possibly up to nine months.”

Ticket sales had been up on the previous year, with around £100,000 worth of tickets sold. Mr Farman declined to say what proportion of the original ticket-buyers were needed to come back for the Festivities to stay afloat.

He said: “The ticket sales for the main programme were disappointing this year. Some things went well but the main concerts in the Cathedral and at the Venue were in some cases appreciably off the target that we had.

“The Festivities has an incredibly loyal audience, but the audience is not getting any younger, and I feel a lot of our audience are being squeezed financially.

“We did manage significant savings, but we were well off the target on ticket sales.”

A final decision on re-staging the concert will be taken by August 15. For details of tickets and refunds, see www.chifest.org.uk

Ticket-holders who do not respond by August 9 will be assumed to be wishing to attend the rescheduled concert which features A Night of Dirty Dancing, Crazy for Bublé, Bee Gees Magic, Queen B, and The Magic of Take That, all capped by fireworks.