The organisers of the failed Gwen Gwen Festival have issued a statement, which many commenting on social media are less than happy with. The statement blames the weather and a lack of funding but does not answer a number of questions being asked regarding finances. There are now calls for one of the organisers, Crishal Davies to step down as a county councillor. Ms Davies announced that she will be stepping down as a director of Gwen Community and Regeneration CIC.
The statement also mentions the media portraying Kidwelly in a bad light. The claim has been criticised by some on social media who point out that it was the organisers who shone the media spotlight on themselves, not the town, for all the wrong reasons.
The statement mentions a lack of funding as a contributory factor but this would have been known from the outset. There are now people asking where all the money went from the initial £270,000 that was given as funding.
The statement mentions the media stating: “We cannot stress enough that the failing of the festival should not reflect badly on Kidwelly, it’s not an accurate reflection of the town and the community, the town should be praised for the way everyone came together to create a welcoming experience for all those visiting the town for the weekend.”
Union Sounds also commented on the mini festival which took place and said they would like to distance themselves from Gwen Gwen CIC. They say they had no contact with the organiser and no offer of payment for their time. They claim they lost money after renting a van to support Dub FX. They said: “We answered a call from members of the Kidwelly community who were super disappointed in the festival proceedings.”
The media reported on what was happening and reflected the concerns of those who felt that they had been completely failed by the organisers and many who had lost money as a result of either attending as a ticket holder or as a trader. At no point did the media suggest that Kidwelly was not a welcoming town.
The statement says that traders will be refunded their pitch fee but does not mention the reimbursement for stock or travel and accommodation expenses. People commenting on social media are questioning whether they will get their money back if they had not paid through Eventbrite.
To date no accounts have been forthcoming for the festival in 2022 or 2023. Some commenting on the fiasco have insisted that there should be a criminal investigation.
The statement mentions the efforts of the community to save something from a complete wash out. One local resident and business person who did not wish to be named said: “It is hard to see how so much money was given to a group of people who have failed so badly and who have been less than transparent when it comes to accounts. It is not rocket science, you have a profit and loss sheet and you spend within your budget. It seems to me that they were flying by the seat of their pants with little more in the pot than wanting to become a mini Glastonbury.”
The statement in full:
Gwên Gwen Festival 2023Statement 14th August 2023
On Friday 11th August 2023,Directors of Gwên Community and Regeneration CIC made the difficult decision to cancel this years Gwên Gwen Festival. This decision was not taken lightly,however in light of the situation we faced, we felt at the time this was the correct decision.Firstly, we want to sincerely apologise to all that tried to make this festival happen, including artist,contractors, traders, vendors and volunteers. Your efforts must not go unnoticed, we thank you for those efforts and apologise sincerely for failing to make this work.The decision was made to cancel the festival, we accept that this was a decision taken very late,too late, and in hindsight better decisions could have been made, either by cancelling earlier to give everyone involved more notice or running the event in a scaled back capacity, with full or partial refunds to ticket holders. However, at the time, under the circumstances, cancellation seemed the only viable option.The decision was made to cancel, based on difficulties on the build, caused by the weather making the ground very soft and delaying the site build. The weather was not the only contributing factor, it simply made matters worse. There were also other contributing factors, one being we did not have the funds to complete the festival, especially with the added costs incurred as a result of the difficulties faced during the build.Whilst last years festival was grant funded under the direction of Kidwelly Community Hub CIC and Kidwelly Town Council, this year was operated solely by Gwên Community and RegenerationCIC, entirely self funded with no grant funding, with no funding available from last years festival.Whilst discussions were held over a grant application, this was not followed up and the festival remained self sustaining.Whilst the difficulties of the festival were going on, negotiations with artists, management, funders and contractors were going on right up until the announcement to make this work, everyone involved tried to get this over the line.We understand the disappointment, frustration and anger with the decision. With ticket holders from outside the town already arriving on site. However, along with the tremendous support ofDub FX, Union Sounds and DJ Jorddy, we were able to put a small event on at the main festival site, to compliment the fantastic events organised around the town.The businesses/venues of Kidwelly, kept a large proportion of the ticket holders in town, to make the most of the weekend and enjoy what our amazing town has to offer. Determined to make the best of a bad situation, Kidwelly and it’s community kept the party going for all. The weekend still brought a lot of business into the town, and the town has to be commended for the way it has stood up and delivered during a difficult situation caused by no fault of their own.That said, we are aware of the local and national news coverage of the event, that has no doubt caused concern amongst the community, of painting Kidwelly in a bad light. We cannot stress enough that the failing of the festival should not reflect badly on Kidwelly, it’s not an accurate reflection of the town and the community, the town should be praised for the way everyone came together to create a welcoming experience for all those visiting the town for the weekend.In response to the event being cancelled, the Directors of Gwên Community and RegenerationCIC have met to determine the next steps. As a result, Crish Davies will step down as Director of Gwên Community and Regeneration CIC with immediate effect.Company Director, Richard James will remain as a Director to oversee the refund of tickets to ticket holders, refund of trader pitches to the traders, and payments of any outstanding payments due.
The event has been cancelled on Eventbrite and refunds are being issued through the EventbriteSystem, refunds can take up to 5-7 working days from the date of refund to reappear in your account.All Traders will be refunded their trade pitch fee within 7 days of the cancellation of the festival.Following on from this, a decision will be taken as to whether Gwên Gwen will continue beyondthis year.In closing, we want to stress that the we as a company accept full responsibility for the failing ofthis years festival and that no blame or negativity should be pointed at any contractor, partner,sponsor, supplier, volunteer or the community of Kidwelly.Again, we sincerely apologise to all those who purchased tickets and trade stalls, supported theevent through sponsorship, giving up their time as volunteer, contractors and the land trustees ofthe site, all of whom have been extremely supportive in trying to make this happen.Please direct any questions you have to the contact details below.Richard JamesDirector, Gwên Community and Regeneration CICEmail:firstname.lastname@example.orgCrish DaviesDirector, Gwên Community and Regeneration CIC