Future of Chichester Festivities remains in the balance

Crisis-hit Chichester Festivities bosses remained tight-lipped as a crucial deadline came and went.

The summer arts festival is facing the ‘probability’ of liquidation if it doesn’t get enough people to rebook for its rearranged fireworks concert at Goodwood racecourse.

Last month the Festivities set their own deadline, saying they would make a decision by 
August 15. But as the deadline loomed, Festivities director Amanda Sharp declined to say whether people were rebooking in sufficient numbers for the Festivities to have a viable future.

She said it was impossible for her to say anything at the moment, but that she hoped to know more ‘by the end of the week’.

The original concert – a vital part of the overall Festivities package – 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 confirmed the Festivities were obliged to offer refunds.

Chichester Festivities chairman Ian Farman admitted if too many people took up the offer, the Festivities – after a disappointing year overall – may well go out of business. The concert is by a long way the biggest event in the two-week festival.

The July cancellation left Chichester Festivities Ltd in a very serious financial position, he said, to the extent that if a substantial number of ticket-holders do seek refunds, the Festivities will be unable to meet all its liabilities and ‘in all probability will have to go into liquidation’.

The Festivities declined to say what proportion of the original ticket-buyers were needed to come back for the Festivities to stay afloat. But it is clear it has already been a miserable year for the festival, with sales generally disappointing, with a number of their regular events falling short of hoped-for ticket sales.

Adding to the Festivities’ woes is a strong Facebook backlash in the wake of the concert cancellation.Comments included:

-Steve O’Connor: “Still want a refund for x8 tickets & the £100 minibus taxi, & the £20 for the babysitter.”

-Clive Sage: “The only reason people were upset was it was too last minute to cancel.”

More conciliatory was Ros Thompson: “Maybe everyone who blames Chichester Festivities for the cancellation should think about what has happened across the country this summer due to the weather. The possible closure of the Chichester Festivities is a real shame.”