Help us to keep Hitchin’s Rhythms of the World music festival alive, say supporters

A meeting in a bid to save Rhythms is being held on Monday, July 10. Picture: Daniel Scotcher

A meeting in a bid to save Rhythms is being held on Monday, July 10. Picture: Daniel Scotcher - Credit: Archant

It’s your music festival, now help us save it – that’s the message from Hitchin’s Rhythms of the World volunteers as a crucial meeting looms about its future.

The long-running event – which has helped put the town on the map at home and abroad – is fighting for its future and needs people in the town who care about the festival to stand up and be counted.

A meeting is set to be held at Club 85 in under two weeks’ time to discuss the future of the long-running town music and cultural gathering, after the cancellation of a RotW town centre event planned for Sunday, July 9.

Volunteer Rosie Topps, who along with many others put in hundreds of hours of unpaid service to help run the festival in the past, told the Comet: “We miss not having it as a community because it brought the whole town together.

“It would be wonderful if the community could get behind it again – if as many people as possible turn up to the public meeting at Club 85 then perhaps it will enable some real discussions about getting the festival going again, as well as allay a lot of ‘misinformation’.”

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The charity behind the festival is now solvent again after volunteers worked hard throughout 2016 to pay off all the debts following the loss-incurring 2014 and 2015 events.

Despite continued work behind the scenes by an army of volunteers, active marketing campaigns and good ‘pre-sales’ – the attendances two and three years ago were simply not good enough to make the event at Hitchin Priory on Tilehouse Street financially viable. The festival was also unlucky with the weather, which organisers say also affected ticket sales.

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A RotW spokesman said they believe there’s still a passion for it to continue – but that it needs the support from as many people in the town as possible if this is to happen. He added the event was organised by volunteers and without them there would be no RotW festival.

There has also been ongoing comment from people slamming the move in 2008 from being a town-based event to a paid-for festival at the Priory – but many have hit back, including the well-known owner of Farley’s Hair Salon Emporium on Hermitage Road, Felix Camfield-Walker.

He said: “Critics need to remove their rose-tinted spectacles. RotW was never free in the town – it relied on donations to keep it going.

“People forget the mess left behind and the late-night aggression. I used to go to my shop on the Monday morning to see if the windows hadn’t been smashed. “When will people stop seeing RotW as some kind of free service they are entitled to?

“My band headlined the first event. I’ve only ever missed one festival – but the festivals held at the Priory were definitely the best.”

All are welcome to attend the public meeting at Club 85 on Whinbush Road from 7pm on Monday, July 10.

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