Since the beginning of the CoVid19 outbreak the virus has single handedly changed the face of society, industry and economy across the globe. People have lost their jobs, livelihoods, and income by the billions, and one of the worst hit sectors has been the event and festival world.
In an industry which relies heavily on freelance workers, the effects of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown have been nothing short of catastrophic. The event supply chain hasn’t been disassembled so much as destroyed, and whilst cancelling the Year 2020 was an essential step to ensure public safety, and one we agree with at Noisily Festival of Music and Arts, it doesn’t change the fact that hundreds of thousands of artists and workers who rely on the gig economy are now unable to generate income.
So the government has swooped in with freelance grants and equivalent furlough schemes for those in contracted employment, and pushed through legislation which typically takes years in a matter of weeks. Whilst there’s an awful lot of government policy we don’t see eye to eye with at Noisily, we give credit where credit is due and commend those involved for safeguarding the livelihoods of the freelance workers who rely on events like ours to survive.
But what of the events themselves?
Almost all festivals in 2020, independent or otherwise, have been cancelled. The halls and corridors in the headquarters of the majors are home only to tumbleweed, whilst their portfolios lay dormant ahead of the 2021 season when they will bounce back with a vengeance as the public party like it’s their last day on Earth. Mark my words, every weekend of summer next year will be biblical, but only for those events that can outlive the virus.
So what of a festival like Noisily, then? A grassroots independent event void of any corporate sponsorship, built by a small group of people for their modest yet devoted festival family, some five thousand strong, who have returned year on year since we opened our gates in 2012.
Well therein lies the answer, and after two long months deliberating what to do in the face of the inevitable, our only option was to ask our family for help. Not investment, not an interest heavy business loan to prop us up temporarily so we could spend the next decade underpaying ourselves and our crew, cutting back on the plethora of content and creativity so we could chip away at our debt.
Having spent the past eight years getting ourselves into a position where 2020 was the year that would finally balance the books and pull the trigger on the glory years for the festival, entering into a substantial amount of debt simply wasn’t an option we were willing to entertain. Many of us have families to support, all of us have at least one other job, and presented with the choice of struggling forward on half the national minimum wage as organisers (our average pay since opening in 2012), or bowing out gracefully knowing we’d done our best and finding solace in our legacy, it was a no brainer.
But after eight weeks bouncing back and forth through the five stages of grief – because to lose Noisily will mean losing our family – it became blindingly apparent that we aren’t ready to throw in the towel without a fight.
We owe it to ourselves, our artists, our crew and our contractors, all of whom rely on Noisily not just for business, but as a breath of fresh air in an industry awash with carbon copy conglomerates. It is a welcome tonic to everyday life, a haven where hedonism and healing go hand in hand, a sum exponential to its parts and boiled down to the bare bones, a spiritual home for those who need one.
I can certainly attest to the latter, and a piece of my heart will always belong to Coney Woods, it’s where I met my wife and where I found out last year that we were expecting our son, who is sleeping soundly at my side as I type. Beyond my own bias there are mountains of emails, messages and handwritten letters we have been delivered over the years, by festival goers ardent to share their gratitude.
I recall one in particular sent several years ago, from a person who, in the depths of depression, had attempted to end their life without success. Just a few weeks later, having never heard of Noisily before, they saw a post online and bought a ticket on a whim and came to the festival alone. What ensued was an experience so authentic, so extraordinary, that it changed their life irrevocably for the better thanks to the genuine human connections they made. We received their correspondence some months after the festival attesting to all the above, and I remember weeping tears of joy at my desk as I struggled to comprehend the power we have to affect positive change when we all work together collectively and consciously.
On Monday 27th April we launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover £150,000 of non-refundable capital we have invested in the 2020 event, and save Noisily Festival of Music & Arts. In doing so we hope that we can preserve our community for years to come, and ensure that Noisily remains a beacon of hope where the collective celebrates the individual, and the individual embraces the collective.
In just a week our festival family have donated tens of thousands of pounds in 2021 ticket donations, and perhaps even more impressive has been the generosity of those giving to our GoFundMe page where the average amount exceeds £100. Many of these benefactors have incredibly never been to the festival, and are giving based solely on their belief in the importance of preserving events such as Noisily as crucibles for learning, healing, growth and counterculture.
Perhaps you share their sentiments? Maybe you share in our sentimentality? You could be an aspiring artist or musician looking for somewhere to present your latest work of art? Or maybe you’re accomplished already, and remember fondly where you came from and where your dreams and aspirations took form and flourished?
Noisily is such a place. It was built by its community, and if we succeed in our endeavours, it will be saved by that community too, and for that we will be eternally grateful and express that gratitude in Coney Woods for years to come.
On Tuesday May 19th we will be hosting a fundraising auction with lots donated by our festival family, including a signed book from Bruce Parry who spoke in our healing area in 2019; a signed copy of Dust Till Dawn, award winning photographer and Olympus Ambassador Philip Volker’s visual anthology of a decade at Burning Man.
As well as these there will be one on one masterclass tutorials with musicians who have played at Noisily; several artworks from artists who hold Noisily close to their hearts; healing classes with practitioners from our Mind Body Soul healing area; fashion donations from our traders. AND even dinner and a DJ with yours truly. Yep, that’s right, I will personally drive to your house and cook dinner for six people, then DJ to as many people as you want to invite to an afterparty lasting all night.
For details on the auction please stay tuned to our social media and website nearer the time.
If you would like to learn more about the festival, please visit our Ethos page here.
If you would like to donate and preserve the future of Noisily, please head to www.noisilyfestival.com for links to our GoFundMe campaign.
If you would like to come join the Noisily Festival family, we intend to open our gates over the weekend of 8th -11th July 2021.
Until then, thank you!
Co-founder at Noisily Festival of Music & Arts