Future of Scotland's Music Festivals

Franz Ferdinand

As the economy heads south, Anna Millar asks what the future holds for Scotland’s music festivals

The law of averages suggests that what goes up must come down. And so it seems that, while the Scottish music scene is generally enjoying rude health, some of its more innovative offshoots are heading for troubled times.

This month brought news that boutique music festival Hydro Connect will not return this year, with organisers citing the ‘high infrastructure and servicing costs incurred’ by staging the festival in Argyll as one of the key reasons. The festival had previously enjoyed two successful years, with the likes of Björk and Franz Ferdinand taking to the main stage, and the festival’s engagement with local producers and the beautiful surroundings creating a refreshing alternative to the usual festival shindig.

Festival promoter Geoff Ellis, who is also responsible for T in the Park, has said of the decision: ‘We’ve been taking a look at things, including bringing the costs down, which is not really possible to do while maintaining the quality.

‘In a rural location, it costs a lot more to do the event because it’s smaller than something like T in the Park. Although it doesn’t cost as much as T, the equipment costs are higher on a like-for-like comparison.’

Ellis will use the coming year to reshape the event to accommodate the current climate, with hopes high that the festival will return in 2010.

The Connect announcement follows the news that Live: At Loch Lomond won’t be going ahead in 2009 either, and that Tennent’s Lager have dropped the internet-based Tennent’s Mutual.

But all is far from lost. Ellis’s view that it is better to play it safe than risk losing the festival entirely is being mirrored internationally, with Langerado Music Festival in Miami also falling victim to the credit crunch this year and taking the time to reconfigure their remit.

‘The economy just really took us for a hit,’ Langerado co-promoter Ethan Schwartz has said. ‘The entertainment dollar is stretched thin for people right now.’

We at The List look forward to seeing the festival back in 2010.

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