Secret Garden Party (SGP) festival founder Freddie Fellowes has announced that his independent Cambridgeshire festival is backing the Drop a Headliner campaign led by grassroots music festival venue Chai Wallahs.

SGP said that in a bold departure from traditional festival programming it is foregoing big-name headliners in order to allocate resources to supporting “rising” artists.

Citing the huge financial pressure on festivals that has already seen close to 40 events having been called off this year, SGP said there is an industry-wide misalignment, and growing concerns that stem from corporation dominance in the entertainment sector: “With alarming figures that clearly reflect this position that includes one headliner commanding approximately £150,000, this is equivalent to £2,500 per minute. The opportunity to re-allocate this vast resource becomes evident, with a recommendation that this figure could finance in preference around 222 individual acts, which would comprise of roughly 1,110 performers across 266 total performance hours. This staggering number would create a marked upsurge in independent music and become a building block for its sustained growth.”

Fellowes said, “We believe in being a breeding ground for talent to grow. Why allocate a massive budget to one or two headliners when it could fuel another 50 outstanding acts? This year’s focus is on providing grassroots artists the ability to shine, whilst actively redefining festival experiences for the future.”

Chai Wallahs’ founder Si Chai said, “Having been ardent supporters of the grassroots scene for over 20 years, we were chuffed as f%$k when Secret Garden Party agreed to be the first independent festival to collaborate with us on the ‘Drop a Headliner’ campaign. There is so much more enjoyment to be had in the discovery of new music, and please trust me when I say that there is a massive world of undiscovered talent. For the grassroots scene to survive and thrive, this talent needs platforms and opportunities to be able to develop, so we must address the disparity.”

The line-up for the 25-28 July SGP festival is made up of more than 350 artists includes Unkle, Crystal Fighters, Chinchilla, Franky Wah, Carly Wilford, Adelphi Music Factory, Jakkob, Omega Nebula, Technobrass, TC & The Groove together with independent collectives including Chai Wallahs, The Living Room and Noiganica.

Freddie Fellowes is interviewed at length in the Access All Areas Backstage Podcast – LISTEN/WATCH HERE.