Hitchin backs Rhythms of the World to return in show of public support

Rhythms of the World is short on funds after festivals in 2014 and 2015 (pictured) lost a significan

Rhythms of the World is short on funds after festivals in 2014 and 2015 (pictured) lost a significant amount of money. Picture: Daniel Scotcher - Credit: Archant

‘We won’t let Rhythms die’ – that’s the resounding message which came from people at the crucial public meeting on the fate of Hitchin’s long-running music festival.

Club 85 played host to Monday night’s discussion and debate about the future of Rhythms of the World music, arts and cultural festival.

Estimates put the number of people who attended the gathering at between 100 and 150 people, a large majority of whom were committed to saving the event.

The celebration of music – which has helped put the town on the map, both at home and abroad – is fighting for its future with trustees appealing for people in the town who care about the festival to stand up and be counted.

The crux of the issues discussed at the meeting was the fact that the trustees admitted there is only £4,000 in the bank account after debtors were paid off following the 2014 and 2015 festivals – which cost around £300,000 to stage and lost a significant amount of money.

The meeting heard the festival – which is a registered charity – also requires a large number of volunteers to step forward to replace more experienced ones who moved on after generously ploughing so much time and effort into previous years’ events.

But judging by the heartening response from a majority show of hands at the end of the meeting after people were asked if they would be interested in volunteering their services, the festival is fighting back.

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RotW trustee Michael Woodward told the Comet after the meeting: “It was great to see so many people turn out to support RotW.

“We were overwhelmed by the public support and commitment.

“The passion and concern shown by so many people in terms of goodwill and offers of practical help is heartwarming – including the incredible show of hands in support of volunteering.

“The views expressed on Monday night demonstrate that people want RotW to continue in Hitchin, which is great news.

“The trustees are holding a strategic planning meeting next week at which we will reflect on the feedback and many offers of support and will determine the way forward for the festival.”

Labour councillor Judi Billing – who was the only local politician to attend the meeting – spoke to the Comet afterwards.

She said: “I was absolutely delighted to see how many committed people there were at the meeting.

“Many were people who had given so much of their time to previous events – but it was also great to see so many new faces offering to help.

“So many people care about the festival and it was great to see them share their views in a very well-controlled meeting.

“I have to say, I spent so much of my life as a local politician in council meetings where there are a lot of angry people – it was refreshing to see so many people who care so passionately about RotW get on so well.”

To volunteer email trustees@rotw.org.uk.

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