The Sound of Hertford
Soon after being elected Mayor of Hertford in 1992, I was asked to consider the possibility of staging a Hertford Music Festival.
Not knowing what such a project entailed, I started to ask questions and soon realised that a festival was a practical proposition, if only I could harness the tremendous enthusiasm and talent within the Town's musical organisations and individuals.
In October 1992, I invited the Town's organisations to meet me and was truly amazed by the enthusiastic response. Soon into our meeting, I realised that we were in fear of 'biting off more than we could chew' and that my previous view of a pleasant musical weekend was escalating into a week, then a fortnight, and finally a month-long programme! It was quite obvious that such an event was going to need very careful planning and that both time and resources would have to be allocated to this major community-based project. Due to this, it was agreed that the first Hertford Music Festival should not be staged until May 1994.
From the inaugural meeting, the project developed until the Hertford Music Festival Society was formed. Both Hertford Town Council and East Herts District Council showed faith in the festival idea by providing very generous support in terms of Grant Aid, free administrative support and cost-free meeting venues. The Grant Aid enabled the Committee to acquire the professional services of a Festival co-ordinator, cover venue booking fees and many other smaller but equally vital services, while the administrative support meant that committee secretarial officer, time and office services costs were absorbed by the Town Council.
The aim of the Festival was to provide a celebration of the vast musical talent in and around Hertford and establish this as a major annual event. It was a project with a difference - "by the community for the community".
Many months of planning, hard work and commitment on the part of members of the Society's Organising Committee resulted in the dream becoming a reality and in May 1994, the first ever Hertford Music Festival was launched. It is a source of pride to all concerned that over forty different events for all tastes and ages were brought together. The Festival took place over the whole of May and, unlike many festivals which feature 'bought in' acts and performers, this was truly a 'home grown' event.
Many valuable lessons have been learned and experience gained - it must not be forgotten that this was a "first" for Hertford and it was a brave step to take on a project starting with nothing and bring it to fruition. Moreover, due to a professional approach from the outset, supported by careful financial management, the Society delivered the Festival and, coming in well under budget, was able to carry forward a small surplus to 'kick-start' and support the growing enthusiasm for a 1995 Festival.
Having proved our ability to run a successful event, the Society is now turning in earnest to the Business Community of Hertford and inviting it to give support to its very own community Music Festival again in 2001 and beyond.
In addition to East Herts District Council, we are very pleased to welcome Tesco Stores and Universal Office Automation back as corporate sponsors of the Hertford Music Festival 2001 and we have once again engaged the services of Herford-based PR and promotions specialists AVF Communications to assist us with management and profile-raising of the Music Festival and to work with you. They ably promoted our Festivals from 1995 and will be in touch with you shortly. We hope we can look forward to your support for this event.
Opportunities for local businesses to sponsor musical events and work in mutually beneficial partnerships will again be plentiful and, as Chairman of the Hertford Music Festival Society, I warmly welcome the prospect of a fruitful and ongoing relationship between Hertford's Commercial sector and its musically talented community. Such partnerships can only serve to strengthen the potential of the Music Festival to develop in bigger and better ways, to the benefit of both the town of Hertford and all who live and earn their living here.
I hope you will find the enclosures interesting and informative and I look forward to the possibility of working in partnership with you in the Hertford Music Festival 2001.
Henry A. Sargent
Chairman - Hertford Music Festival Society
06 February 2001