MUSIC lovers will have one less festival to choose from next year after a decision was taken to cancel a well-known North-East event which had failed to sell enough tickets to cover costs.
The future of the Stockton Weekender, one of the mainstays of the North-East music scene, formerly known as the Stockton Riverside Fringe Festival, has now been confirmed by organisers the Tees Music Alliance (TMA).
Despite Stockton Borough Council investing approximately £100,000 for each of the last four years, the organisers of the festival have decided it is no longer viable to stage.
Paul Burns, who has helped organise the music festival since its inception in 1991 when it ran alongside the Stockton International Riverside Festival, believes that the decision will help to secure the long term future of the not for profit organisation.
“It is definitely not taking place next year, it was a particularly difficult decision to take but unfortunately we have no choice as we didn’t sell enough tickets to cover our costs,” he said. “We have really given it a go and booked some top headline acts such as this year’s Public Enemy and the Happy Mondays, sadly, we have fallen short by around 1,500 tickets to cover our costs.
“We’re working in an environment of seemingly runaway costs - especially for headline artists, who tend to look towards the live circuit to recoup money they no longer get from record sales.
“One of the really sad things about closing the festival down is that we will no longer be able to put local bands like Young Rebel Set and Cattle & Cane on the same stage as major headline acts.”
TMA will continue to work in the music scene with the Green Dragon Studio and the Georgian Theatre as well as organising Stockton Calling alongside Stockton’s ARC arts venue and Ku bar.
And Mr Burns did not want to rule out the return of another festival further down the line but said he could not envisage it ever being on the scale of the Weekender.
Stockton Borough Council’s cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture, Councillor Ken Dixon said it was disappointing that the music festival was not able to continue.
He said: "We have been pleased to help TMA, a local community focused organisation, with this event.
"The Weekender has had every chance to stand on its own two feet and we think it’s had a fair crack of the whip. In many ways it has been very successful, bringing in tens of thousands of visitors and giving talented local musicians a phenomenal opportunity to increase their following.”