Exclusive: Katrina Larkin talks eFestivals about the new partnership with Festival Republic

she explains what the deal will mean to the Big Chill

published: Fri 25th Sep 2009

around the festival site (3)

Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th August 2010
Eastnor Castle, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1RL, England MAP
£155 for the weekend
daily capacity: 30000
last updated: Mon 2nd Aug 2010

Katrina Larkin is one of the founders of The Big Chill, and spoke exclusively to eFestivals about the festival's new partnership with Festival Republic, who now own the majority share in the event. She sees this as a very positive thing, to her it's not a huge deal, it means she now has a stronger team, who can plan better, get more support, and take some of the stress away, allowing her to do what she does best.

around the festival site (3)
Hi Katrina, how are you?
I've got a really sore throat, sorry, it's really not the day as the phone has been red hot.

What made you decide to sell to Festival Republic?
Well we talked to a lot of people, and the deal was done with the organisation that inspired us the most, they understood what we were about and understood what we needed. Because we are a very small team (5 people) and the festival is not a straight forward gig with just a stage, The Big Chill has a lot going on, and we need support all the year around, and they are able to offer it which is perfect for us.

When did the deal happen?
It happened last Friday night.

Are The Cantaloupe group (who bought into Big Chill in 2002) still involved in the festival organisation?
Not really, they are still involved in the Big Chill bars with me.

What will be the role of Festival Republic take in the running of the event?
Oh, we're just going to be one big team actually, I'm staying in the creative lead of everything. I think they will provide a very strong backbone for us, and they will really enable to produce a great festival. They produce festivals all the time, constantly, and I think they'll really, really be able to help us, they will offer us advice, and steer us in the right direction, one which we've been going in over the years.

Do you foresee any negative aspects of the new partnership?
I see this as a really positive thing, to me it's not a huge deal, it means I've now have a stronger team, who can plan better, get more support, and take some of the stress away, allowing us to do what we do best.

So will The Big Chill stay the same?
Yes, absolutely, the ethos ain't changing, we're very much about putting on magical weekends for four days every year, and that's what will happen in 2010 at Eastnor Castle.

Presumably they will be able to assist in the programming of the line-up?
Oh yes, exactly, they'll just be able to assist us in areas. Frankly, I haven't had a proper night's sleep in months, just because it's a such a big thing now, and such a big thing to organise, this deal is really going to offer stability to us as well, which is really, really important.

Are food or drink concessions likely to alter?
No, we're really staying as we were, just with a stronger team. The markets are really, really exciting, instead of thinking, "How are we going to do that level of work?" We've got people to share it with, and that's a positive thing for us.

As I understand it the Association of Independent Festivals was set up in such a way that Festival Republic would not be represented, with Festival Republic now the major owner do you have to surrender your membership of the AIF?
I do yes, I know that they have been spoken to, and they are very aware of what's going on. I wish them all the very best for the future. It's always good to meet, it's been good to feel the support of other people, and feel that they are on your side. I know all those guys, and I'm sure we'll still be in contact with each other even though I'm not on the AIF.

Are there any plans for next year's festival already?
Oh god! Too many! But we've got to sit down with lots of cup tea and get to know each other first, and then go through all the ideas and work out what works best for the festival.

Do you have any headliners in place?
It's too early to say aloud, but there's some very exciting names being thrown about.

You have the Big Chill 'Bristol Bar' opening in a couple of weeks are you looking forward to that?
On October 6th, yes, I am, there's an awful lot happening at the moment. We're very busy people, and that's why it's so good that this partnership has come about, because it leaves me to concentrate on the creative side of all aspects of The Big Chill.

With it being festival themed will it serve festival food?
Yes it will, we're just sorting out the new menu at the moment, and the range of drinks. The team from Bristol were at Big Chill House training the other day, and it's really good for us because we've always been quite London-centric, but we're not, the festival is in the Malvern Hills, and it's really neat that we also have a venue in the West Country now. We have a very much Bristol based line-up who have been very much part of the Chill over the years, Daddy G, and DJ Derek, people like that.

Can you see The Big Chill festival expanding?
Not at the moment, no.

Will the non-music side of the festival expand now you have more time to plan that?
you know that's where my heart is, and there's always a really strong element of that at the festival, and always has been. This will mean I'll have a lot more time to plan things, and come up with more ideas.

How did this year's zombie Thursday event go?
Really well, we broke the Guinness Book Of Records record, they sent us a certificate the other week, it's packed in a box now, heading to our new office.

Next year's festival is set to take place from Thursday 5th until Sunday 8th August at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire.

interview by: Scott Williams

Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th August 2010
Eastnor Castle, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1RL, England MAP
£155 for the weekend
daily capacity: 30000
last updated: Mon 2nd Aug 2010

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