Black Deer Festival co-founder Gill Tee has told Access that ticket sales for the event have taken off and there has been an overwhelmingly positive response from fans and events professionals since the decision was made to move the festival back a week to capitalise on the planned lifting of social distancing restrictions on 21 June.
The independent Americana and country music festival was originally planned for 18-20 June, with a line-up including Van Morrison, at Eridge Park, Kent. The festival has been rescheduled for June 25-27, and Tee said the event is being planned for its full 20,000 capacity.
She said, “We’re in a beautiful estate with plenty of room, so we can do social distancing if it is required but we are planning confidently for the full 20,000 capacity.”
With the festival set to miss out on the potential lifting of restrictions on June 21 by a matter of a couple of days, Tee said it was imperative to react quickly: “We are an independent festival, we can make decisions quickly. We are aware of the gamble, the possible dangers, it is a brave decision, but we have made it – we’ve drawn our line in the sand, we’re going for it.
“We are planning for a full capacity event and ticket sales are moving towards that number – that’s what we want to achieve, to make our festival viable, but if suddenly there is a restriction that hits us we have got capacity at the estate to be able to react to that.
“That’s not to say it would be an easy ask, we would have to do a lot of rejigging and rethinking, anyone in the business of organising a festival knows what goes into the planning, it would be our worst possible scenario but that is the gamble we are taking.”
“We are aware of the gamble, the possible dangers, it is a brave decision, but we have made it – we’ve drawn our line in the sand, we’re going for it.”
Tee said the team has been delighted by the reaction of the industry and ticket buyers to the move. Some 91% of ticket holders for last year’s cancelled event had carried over their tickets for this year, more than 10,000, and ticket sales have “gone nuts” since the reschedule announcement.
She said, “It has been overwhelming; everyone has been so supportive. There is clearly a desire to get out and be with people and enjoy music, to be having fun again – people just need it.”
As director of events fencing business Entertee Hire she has also seen an uplift in activity from a supplier’s perspective since Johnson’s announcement of the reopening roadmap on 22 February: “It has literally re-started, the phones have started ringing again with positive calls about festivals planned through the year. There’s been talk for a while, people have come in for quotes, but now there’s a whole different feel to it.”
Run by Black Deer Live, Black Deer Festival was founded by Gill Tee and Deborah Shilling in 2018. It attracted 3,000 people in its first year and 10,000 the following year.
The festival will, once again, take place at Eridge Park, Kent. The park is owned by Christopher Nevill the Marquess of Abergavenny, and is licensed to accommodate 30,000 people.
Among the other acts to play the six-stage festival in 2021 are Wilco, The Waterboys, Saving Grace FT Robert Plant, Lucinda Williams, The Dead South and Imelda May.