Saturday, 31 July 2021

Fringe festival gets off to a roaring start

THE sixth Henley Fringe Festival got off to a roaring start this week. Tickets were selling fast from the pink

THE sixth Henley Fringe Festival got off to a roaring start this week. Tickets were selling fast from the pink bus box office which has been stationed in Market Place.

Shows on offer included an adaptation of Aesop’s fable for children, The Lion And The Mouse, pictured left, performed by members of FalconGrange Productions at Henley Rugby Club.

Other acts throughout the week include stand-up comedy shows, and music at In The Groove record shop and the Angel On The Bridge. For full details visit

ORGANISERS of the Henley Festival have refused to comment any further on their move, or to give a more detailled insight into the festival accounts, despite a barrage of letters and comments from Henley Standard readers.

From next year, the annual event of music and art will move from the Henley Royal Regatta site to the Henley Business School at Greenlands on a 15-year lease.

Last week, chief executive Gill Mitchell and artistic director Stewart Collins told the Standard that they had no choice but relocate to cut costs.

This year’s event, which featured the Beach Boys, Madness, Jamie Cullum and Paloma Faith among its headlining acts, cost £2 million but made a loss of £50,000 due to poor ticket sales. None of the evening events sold out, unlike previous years.

Readers have sent in letters to the Henley Standard urging for a rethink because they prefer the regatta site and suggest that too much money is being spent on big name acts to perform. It has also been suggested that the festival has already lost some of its “friends”.

Jacqui McCourt, from Henley, said: “What matters to us has never been perfect sound quality or the profits of the Henley Festival Trust, or the inconvenience to those charged with organising the event.

“What makes the event special is the ambience of the evening in its spectacular setting opposite Henley town and its historic association with the river.”

Monty Taylor, from Harpsden Woods, said: “Whilst the board may be left with egg on its face, it seems to me that, with the benefit of hindsight on this year’s attendance figures, there needs to be an urgent strategy review and a meeting with the regatta organisers to try and find a compromise to remain on the present site.”

Richard Wiseman, from Amersham, said the festival is paying too much for top stars. “I would be interested in hearing Mr Collins’ comments on how he can justify paying these fees,” he said.

An online poll of readers carried out by the Henley Standard website this week asked: “Do you think Henley Festival will be better at its new site?” Readers voted overwhelmingly against — with 96 per cent voting No, and only four per cent voting Yes.

The festival organisers, which last week urged the people of Henley to “give the new site a chance,” declined to comment.

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