Black Deer Festival (cap. 20,000) co-founder Deborah Shilling has announced that she is departing after five years at the Americana music event.
Shilling co-founded the festival in 2018 with Gill Tee, who will remain in her role. The event attracted 5,000 people in its first year and 10,000 the following year. It takes place at Eridge Park, Kent, which is owned by Christopher Nevill the Marquess of Abergavenny.
Black Deer has won awards such as Music Event of the Year at the 2019 Event Production Awards and Promoter of the Year at the 2022 UK Festival Awards.
Tee told Access, “Black Deer will continue its growth, and not having Debs alongside me will be a very different experience, but with all the passion and ideas I have for its future, working with an incredible talented group of people, I know Debs will continue to be proud of what we started.
“When initial discussions took place to start a festival, with a genre that both Debs and I believed deserved a bigger platform to showcase the incredible talent and storytelling under the ‘Americana’ umbrella, in an already packed festival marketplace, I don’t think either of us realised, what a roller coaster ride we had let ourselves in for.
“We worked tirelessly together to bring something unique and special to life. Debs, with her great talent to dig deep into the detail and find imaginative ways to showcase what Black Deer was to the festival and the outside world, was really inspiring. Working with her great team, she created a respected and recognisable brand, that stood out from the crowd.”
Announcing her departure on LinkedIn, Shilling said she will take some time out before starting her next venture: “All good things must come to an end. It’s with a heart full of love that I say goodbye to Black Deer Festival of Americana When I co-founded this event in 2018, the vision was simple: to create a vibrant community of like-minded souls and celebrate exceptional Americana music and the culture surrounding it, all in a beautiful setting.
“I am so very grateful to my talented team and to all those people who worked so hard to make Black Deer one of the most instantly recognisable and respected Americana festivals in the world today. I will always feel enormous pride for what has been achieved and wish it all the very best for the future.”