Connect abandoned till 2010



By Cara Sulieman

ONE OF Scotland’s newest music festivals has been hit by the credit crunch – but is hoping to be up and running after a break.

Connect Festival, held at Inveraray Castle, had its first outing in 2007 and has hosted bands as wide-ranging as Glasvegas, Franz Ferdinand, Jesus And Mary Chain and Bjork.

But the castle will be quiet this year, as the gathering has been hit hard by the dire economy.

Organisers have blamed the combination of a remote location and spiralling costs for the cancellation this summer – but vow to be back in 2010.

Even the expected £80,000 public funding isn’t enough to cover the costs of the eclectic festival, as organisers fear it will be hit by declining audience numbers.

Connect creator Geoff Ellis has made the decision to hold back the popular gathering rather than “compromise the festival’s high standards and disappoint fans.

He said: “We still want to do the event in future years, but our business plan was always to build on the audience year-on-year, and last year we didn’t really see any increase on the year before.

“It would be foolish for us to expect the growth necessary to see Connect thrive in 2009. To go into something knowing you’re going to lose a great deal of money, and therefore risk people’s jobs, just isn’t worth it.”

Drawing a more mature crowd, the festival has been hit by the effect of the recession on its generally more mature, English audience.

With these festivalgoers more likely to suffer from job losses and spiralling mortgages, as well as expensive trips from England to the remote site, Connect is a different beast from other Scottish festivals such as T in the Park.

Instead, the company will focus on putting on a series of smaller “intimate” gigs in the area, with devotees to the festival getting first dibs on any tickets.

But the decision will still come as a blow to the local economy, which raked up a whopping £1.5 million in 2008 alone.