Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage

Staithes Festival has established itself as one of the friendliest festival on the coast – a must-go-to event in the regional arts calendar.

During the weekend some 100+ cottages in the village become temporary art galleries in a unique selling exhibition. Staithes heritage is also celebrated in fossils, fishing, historic photographs and film shows.

North York Moors, Scarborough Borough Council and Welcome to Yorkshire
Light on the Beach

Glenn Kilpatrick www.whitby-photography.com

STAITHES FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND HERITAGE: 

Why we can’t continue ….

The main problems we’re facing now are a shortage of venues and a shortage of manpower. 

VENUES: Staithes has seen a number of changes since 2012 when we started SFAH. Back then we used to see the summer visitors going home at the end of the school holidays, leaving an abundance of empty holiday cottages that owners were happy to let to artists for venues to display their work. 

As the popularity of the festival grew each year, we were already finding that the number of available venues was dwindling and by the last festival in 2019 we were aware of many artists struggling to secure a venue. 

The “staycation effect” of the last two years has exacerbated this. The village is almost constantly at capacity now with visitors renting holiday cottages all year round and this means there are fewer cottages than ever available as artist venues. 

SFAH relies on the artist registration fee for income to run the festival. If artists can’t find venues, they won’t be able to register and the festival will no longer have the funds to operate. 

MANPOWER: SFAH has largely been run by the same core team of volunteers who began the festival in 2012. We’ve enjoyed every minute of it and are hugely proud of the wonderful, friendly, inspiring community event we created. But as the event has grown, the pressures on the team have also increased while, at the same time, many of our own circumstances have changed leaving us less time to dedicate to SFAH.

A few more volunteers have come forward and they’re extremely welcome. However, the organisation and co-ordination of the event is a mammoth task. A handful of amateur volunteers, however enthusiastic, simply cannot safely and effectively manage an event of the size SFAH has grown to now. 

The list of jobs to manage is positively frightening: permissions; advertising; food and drink; parking; stewards; taxi service; website and social media; mapping and numbering the venues; designing and printing the brochure; concerts and buskers; dealing with visiting speakers; portaloos; flyers and posters; press and publicity; health and safety; collection buckets; first aid; gazebo; risk assessment; payments; income; chasing late payments; proof reading; ordering and managing stock of badges and tee shirts; putting up bunting, brochure delivery and distribution; audio visual requirements; signage; environmental considerations; cleaning and bins; ordering and moving chairs and tables; clearing up; clearing the beach; taking down signs; taking down bunting; storage of gazebo, signs, bunting etc; regular committee meetings according to our CIO constitution …. This is not an exhaustive list!

None of us have experience of Event Management beyond what we’ve learned through organising SFAH and we’re aware that some of these tasks now really need skilled professionals to undertake them or at least help us to manage them. We’re not sure where we could find this help and none of us have the time to seek it out. 

AND SO …? We are all agreed that so much has changed since 2012. Back then, we were able to put together a successful and well-run, but still largely amateur and makeshift event that dovetailed perfectly into the village as it was. For the reasons we’ve outlined above, we feel that the model we based the SFAH on is no longer workable and that if the festival were to come back in any form it would need a radical re-think. We regret we must cancel SFAH 2022 and for the foreseeable future. We’ll also disband our Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Any artists who have registered will be refunded their registration fee in full. We’ll also be looking at donating our remaining funds to other good local causes.