Licensing threat to future of Balstock music festival

THE future of a charity music festival could be in doubt if organisers cannot come up with funds for a licensing fee.

Organisers for Balstock music festival which has been going for the past seven years have been approached by the Performing Right Society (PRS) to pay more than �1500 to perform next year.

They were approached after the seventh Balstock festival which took place in September where more than 150 acts played in 13 venues around the town.

This year Balstock had more than 600 musicians and a record number of crowds who turned out to enjoy the three day festival which this year was raising money for the Baldock Town Hall Group.

Organiser of Balstock, Graeme LaRoche said: “I completely understand where PRS is coming from but I fail to see a justification for them to ask us for money especially as we are a charity festival and all the pubs will have their own PRS license.”

Mr LaRoche who is currently in negotiations with PRS to come to an agreement to only pay for a licence for the stage on the High Street said the worse case scenario would be Balstock would have to fold for next year as the team is made up of volunteers who work for free to make the festival a hit and already struggle to put the event on.

He added: “My feeling is that Balstock supports the local area and local businesses and also a great amount of local musicians and the music scene.

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“We don’t have much financial backing and we work hard for eight months to promote ourselves, this makes things difficult for us in the future and I’m worried we won’t be able to do Balstock unless we downsize.”

A PRS spokesman said: “A festival does need to be licensed and we license all uses of music. It would be unfair on those that do take out a licence if we didn’t license all festivals fairly. To our knowledge we don’t believe that Balstock Festival applied for a discount through our Charity and Community scheme but this is something we recommend all music festivals run for community benefit explore.