2000trees festival organiser talks to eFestivals

Andy Rea interview

published: Mon 30th Jan 2012

around the festival site

Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th July 2012
Upcote Farm, Withington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 4BL, England MAP
£66 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Tue 19th Jun 2012

eFestivals interviewed Andy Rea, organiser of this year's 2000trees festival. This family-friendly festival raises awareness of green issues and aims to be an ethical alternative to the more mainstream music events. There is a wide selection of music at the festival including something for every taste - featuring rock, metal and indie to folk, pop, DJs, and the downright strange.

around the festival site
Hi Andy, how are plans going for this year?
Pretty good now. We're now in our sixth year, and we're in the same cycle of doing things the same way. I definitely think we're ahead of schedule and better prepared than previous years. One problem we have face, which no doubt a lot of people is the Olympics, with the provision of infrastructure, stages, and toilets and that sort of thing. But, we've got good relationships with our suppliers, so it's not too bad.

I'm surprised I really didn't think the Olympics would actually cause that much disruption in Gloucestershire?
There's a few problems where companies have got Olympics supply contracts and they've said we're just too busy, we aren't taking on anymore work. For instance if you want to change your stage set up, which we have been looking at getting a bigger main stage. The two or three companies we've approached were just not taking on new work. In ways that that I never realised people are affected by the Olympics because they're being told by suppliers that they are doing really well out of August so they're not worried about July, they're too busy, or whatever, it's nothing too major.

But there's also the cost of bands too, every year they seem to go up, and that makes it tough for small festivals. You have to rely on them having played before, and hope for them to come back again.

How are you getting with booking the acts at the moment?
It's probably going to be March when we announce the headliners, and we've got roughly 80 bands to book, and we're still waiting for some headline bands to come back to us before we confirm the rest of the line-up. Part of what we try to do is cluster similar sort of bands together, we've got some good irons in the fire, and fingers crossed we've got a few really good acts.

That's pretty normal for us, we're on schedule, we usually announce tickets going on sale first in February, and we hold back naming the bands until we've sold all the early bird tickets. People that like 2000trees will buy tickets anyway, and then people who love specific bands will come and see them at 2000trees hopefully.

Have you got any plans to do any major site changes this year?
Last year we added a fourth stage the Cave, so it was a lot heavier music, and we moved the Greenhouse up to the top of the field. Those were the major changes, and we're not making any changes this year. We are hoping to keep it the same, same capacity, same layout, and just improve what we've got and make it better.

I bet everyone says that to you, we've got quite a small set up, we're a tiny fish in a huge pond of festival organisers, and we're limited with what we can do by the size of the site, and how much other entertainment is going on. We are hoping to improve the after 11pm entertainment. We've had a silent disco for a number of years, and this year we've got three. They are going to be outside as well.

We're trying to split it up because everyone wanted to go into the silent disco and it resulted in a bit of a queue. So, we've got three different ones catering to different genres of music. I think there will be two channels per tent so there will be six DJs at any one time. We are also looking at what else we can do after 11 o clock but nothing is finalised yet.

What's the best lesson you've learnt in putting on 2000trees over the years?
At the very start it was a really steep learning curve and we learnt a lot of lessons early on. You have to be prepared for the unexpected, anything can happen and you've just got to try and react to it when it does. Try and prepare for it before it happens, and just try and sort out problems.

We've had some big problems in the past. We put our toilets in the wrong place, in the early years, and we couldn't get them cleaned. That was a particular mess, because the site is a farmer's field it's not flat and that's been the main thing the layout, getting used to the site.

You've capped your capacity this year again, are there any plans to expand numbers in the future?
Not at the moment, we've had plenty of feedback on Facebook saying we like it because it's small, and because it's not like the festivals that we go to that draw in hundreds of thousands of people. We've listened to that and the plan is to stay the same at the moment. There is a bit more room, but we're quite happy about how it is.

Also, we do this in our spare time, and there's a limit to how much we do. We're not full time festival organisers, so that puts a strain on us.

You've got a reputation for bringing brand spanking new bands to 2000trees how do you find new talent?
One of the six of us, James, books bands, and all of us have a say in what we hear. A lot of them are bands that we go and see live. Certainly for the first few years we'd seen every band that we booked live, that's not still possible. We do try and see as many of the bands as we can live, because that's where they really come alive. You hear a CD but that could have been over produced, if you see them live and they send a tingle down your spine, then... That's why we do it, we love music.

We sometimes just sit around and listen to lots of CDs and have a listen and suggest some, and go through them and pick bands that excite us.

You've always been a very green orientated event, is it cost effective to increase your green credentials year on year?
It's not easy, but it is cost effective, and do-able, and I think a lot more festivals could make a lot more effort, for not that much more significant cost. It's important to us, but we've quite green since the start and that's because we felt it was easy to have things like recycling, and green initiatives. We try to do everything we can. We had all the major steps in place at the start, and we've just added to that as we've gone on. Although, as word spreads, it helps - with things like car sharing which is quite a big chunk of non-green carbon footprint that we're helping people to reduce.

How much are your audience attracted by your green credentials?
Less and less each year, it's more about new and underground British music, that's certainly what 2000trees is about, but there's a lot of media coverage about our greenness. We won a Greener Festival award a few years back and that's part of the history of the festival. I'm not sure it's as important to everybody as it is to us. The amount of rubbish has certainly increased, so we have a lot of people helping to tidy up the site.

How do you think festivals are holding up under the current economic situation?
I think it's tough. With no Glastonbury this year, that does perhaps mean there's an extra 150,000 tickets that might be bought elsewhere, people still want to go to festivals. I heard last week that the Big Chill has cancelled this year because of the Olympics, and possibly cited that they couldn't get the right bands or on site stuff. There could be a lot of reasons but I know the Big Chill has had financial difficulties in the past, and last year I read over 30 festivals folded.

There's no doubt it's tough, but on the flip side of that if you think that you can give a really good experience, and that's something that small festivals can do in abundance, then I think it may not be as bad as people make out. Great festivals like Kendal Calling have consistently doubled their capacity over the last five years, and they're now up to over 10,000. I went last year and i thought it was fantastic.

2000trees is still selling out, and faster and faster each year, and we've increased capacity. I think it's all about audience experience, and if you give people a good time, they will come back, and they will buy their tickets.

You attract a younger audience, are you finding it economically difficult to attract them because they're short of money?
Our audience is getting younger the more we push the new underground British music element of it. I'd say 50% of our audience is under 24 possibly more than that. But then the older age range is quite a lot too because that's our age group, and we have a lot of friends and family who come along too.

We've not found the younger market shrinking, but then we're good value for money, we're one of the cheapest festivals in the UK. We were also named by the fans at the festival awards as one their favourite festivals which suggest we have a young media savvy audience who are prepared to vote for us.

Yes, if you're looking to charge around £200 a tickets, and fans know they're going to have to spend a lot of money when they get there, then I think the big festival s are going to struggle to attract younger crowds. But, that's why smaller festivals are there, they are often a festival fan's first experience at a local festival before they go on and try bigger festivals like Glastonbury.

You do a ticket deal with Y-Not each year who have just bought Truck, have you been asked to help out?
No, they're (Y-Not) our sister festival, essentially we do a deal every year with selling joint discounts where with a massive discount you can go to both, and they are friends of ours that's why they're our sister festival.

But, no we're not involved with them. Truck are also close personal friends of ours though, but we won't be involved in the running of it, I'm sure we'll give them plenty of good ideas though (laughs), but it's entirely their baby. Good luck to them I think, Truck needed an injection of inspiration after 14 years and I think Y-Not are young and fresh with lots of good ideas. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

Lastly what are your festival predictions for this year?
There will be more bands playing festivals, and line-ups will become bigger. But more line-ups will overlap, there's too many festivals for the number of bands about. We've seen some bands become headlining acts and I'm not sure they are ready for it. But it's good that bands are moving up the bill, playing really big festivals, and getting their music out there. That's good for live music, and good for all of us. I'd like to think bands that have played 2000trees before will come back no matter how big they become. There are some bands we'd love to book but they've just sky rocketed.

I'd like to see more people wearing brighter colours in the audience, instead of black T-shirts, and I hope this year is not going to have too many Olympic themed festivals with fancy dress. The Olympics are a separate event and I think any festival which tries to hang on the coat tails of that won't be as good. I can predict our fancy dress won't have an Olympic theme, although it does have to be voted for by the fans. I predict more fancy dress and more fun.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us Andy. And best of luck with the festival.

2000trees Festival returns for a sixth year on Thursday 12th until Saturday 14th July 2012 at Upcote Farm, Withington, Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire.

Tickets for 2000trees go on sale in February with a limited number at last year's prices. That means a weekend ticket is priced at £59. Children aged 0 to 10 years old can go free but require a ticket and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Early Entry tickets for Thursday will be priced at £14. Last year's event sold out in advance.

To celebrate the end of January, organisers are giving fans the opportunity to bag Ticket for Life to 2000trees, for more information see the website here.

As always there is a limited number at last year's prices. That means a weekend ticket will be priced at £66. Children aged 0 to 10 years old can go free but require a ticket and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Early Entry tickets for Thursday will be priced at £14. A join ticket with sister festival 'Y-Not' in Derbyshire is priced at £117. Last year's event sold out in advance.

To buy tickets, click here.
interview by: Scott Williams

Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th July 2012
Upcote Farm, Withington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 4BL, England MAP
£66 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Tue 19th Jun 2012

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