Jun 07

Let’s Make Glastonbury Better!

Blog 7 + FT/20 comments • 1,210 views

It’s amazing how ideas come to you sometimes. There I was, surrounded by mud and rain and more mud, cursing the lack of urinal at the top of the New Band Tent (call it by it’s name) Field when it suddenly struck me. All the issues I had with Glastonbury reminded me of something, see if you can spot it:

1. “Father knows best” autocratic owner increasingly getting in to bed with commercial interests that seem to have only negative impacts on the punter

2. Said punters being treated like cattle with little thought for our comfort or welfare

3. Increasing costs and declining facilities

4. Being constantly told by media/controlling interests that you’re part of the best festival in the world, when you can clearly see the cracks round the edges

5. The complete lack of feedback mechanisms for us to get our views across to those in charge

Yes, being at Glastonbury is exactly like being a football fan, and what have football fans done about this? Formed Supporters Trusts, by the hundred!

So, this is my plan, form a “Supporters Trust” for Glastonbury, so that those of us who care about the future of Glastonbury can have a real constructive input into how things move forward as there seemed to be some glaring oversights in the organisation this year. I don’t want this to be about picking the bands, I don’t even really want it to be about ticket-pricing/allocation (although I still think Simon’s ideas on No Rock & Roll Fun three years ago were spot on), I want it to be about:

Making sure there are enough toilets in the right places
The dance village in particular is appallingly served, but also simple things like urinals by The Glade and John Peel Tent would be the easiest way to stop people (ok, men) pissing in the streams. I saw a portaloo urinal in the middle of the markets, why weren’t they everywhere?

Making the bottlenecks and metal paths wider
I know some places are as wide as they can be, but there are some places where work could be done. The best example is the back left corner of the other stage, heading towards dance where it could easily be made 10-15 yards wider, by just moving a couple of stalls and stopping people camping on the far side, there seems to be no attempt to help traffic flow at the busiest times beyond “hey dudes, just take a breather for ten minutes, then the crowd will go”.

Making National Express treat us as they would other customers, not scum of the earth
Seriously though, a six year-old with a bunch of crayons could come up with a more workable way of getting off-site than the current set-up, and that’s before we even start on the SeeTicket bus catastrophe. It feels like Glastonbury doesn’t care about us once we’re out of the gate and “so what” if we have to stand for three hours in the rain or sit for eight hours in our cars. The festival doesn’t end ’til we’re at home in the bath Michael, not as soon as we get orf your laaand…

Making the total capacity of Glastonbury 20,000 lower
The increase in capacity this year was a dismal failure. The idea that the extra 30,000 people would all merrily troop up to The Park to watch Kate Nash rather than the Arctic Monkeys was naïve to say the least. To continue the football analogy, the extra 30,000 are just increasing the prawn sandwich/premiership element of the crowd, not the non-league heart of the festival who will happily see no bands on the Pyramint all weekend.

Making the ale last ’til Sunday night
OK, slightly joky one this, Workers Beer did their usual stirling work, but there was an issue where there was pretty much nothing but Carlsberg left by Saturday afternoon (excluding The Red Flag, but even that was down to just Wherry by 4pm Sunday). Maybe this is because people don’t like Carlsberg, that our tastes have moved on and this should be reflected. This isn’t Reading where the kids will get smashed on whatever you put in front of them. But, where do we voice these concerns? Has the festival ever done a customer satisfaction survey? Wouldn’t that be a better use of our email addresses than sending unsolicited mail for other festivals?

So, these are just my five things, I bet you’ve got five things too, but how can we make sure we’re heard? The festival claims to be about opening people’s minds to climate change, water pollution and all the other worthy aims we hear about all weekend, but has no democratic mandate itself. If the tinpot dictators of the premiership and football league can cope with the idea of fan representation on the board, surely Michael Eavis can as well?


  1. 1
    Pete Baran on 28 Jun 2007 #

    I am not so convinced that the excess capacity was a problem that could not just be dealt with better stewarding and rethinking some of the site plan as mentioned, but nevertheless your key thesis is sound. HOW do we, the Glastonbury regulars, actually express our views to THE MAN?

    Certainly only having one real ale tent at the festival now seems to be doing a disservice to a great british beverage. They did the right thing with the Brothers Bar Cider (in all tents), now think about upping your ale.

  2. 2
    Madeup on 28 Jun 2007 #

    “1. “Father knows best” autocratic owner increasingly getting in to bed with commercial interests that seem to have only negative impacts on the punter

    2. Said punters being treated like cattle with little thought for our comfort or welfare

    3. Increasing costs and declining facilities

    4. Being constantly told by media/controlling interests that you’re part of the best festival in the world, when you can clearly see the cracks round the edges

    5. The complete lack of feedback mechanisms for us to get our views across to those in charge”
    I assumed you were making a satirical point about the government.

  3. 3
    marna on 28 Jun 2007 #

    My Glasto-improving-plan has been – for years – that they should ditch the pyramid stage. And possibly the other stage. Suspect that this might be seen as excessive.

  4. 4
    steve m on 28 Jun 2007 #

    I’m surprised that given how there has only been one constantly dry/sunny Glastonbury this decade you haven’t put ‘move festival either back or forward 3-4 weeks’. This has become a huge bugbear for me and I am tired of the bad weather frequency. Less tradition more common sense – our Junes have been wetter than our Aprils for some time now.

  5. 5
    katstevens on 28 Jun 2007 #

    Also you forgot “stop using SMS delivery”. The Glade festival has an interesting method this year – get your ticket through the normal post, type in an online activation code and your ticket will be scanned on the gates, with random ID checks. This is a tiny festival obviously and would involve organisation+++ in order to work on a larger scale, but at least they recognise that “having to sign for tickets is a hassle”.

    It’s too late for me, I am old and weary and can’t even be ar5ed to complain properly. If ALL these points were upheld then I might CONSIDER possibly registering for 2009.

  6. 6
    Pete Baran on 28 Jun 2007 #

    Steve, changing the weekend of the festival would be like changing queues in a Post Office unless there was a good statistical proof behind it (and since the time of the fest is tied with the solstice, unlikely to happen).

  7. 7
    Matt DC on 28 Jun 2007 #

    Yeah it’s a combination of solstice and ‘kids have just finished their exams’, but mostly the solstice. It aint gonna happen.

    As for the rest of this though, I bet we could get a bit of press behind this if we start early. Maybe taking out the bit calling Michael Eavis an autocrat though.

  8. 8
    stevem on 29 Jun 2007 #

    solstice schmolstice. i doubt most people who go to glasto now are really bothered by the proximity of the two events. are you? the statistical point is fair but look at the stats – only one constantly dry/sunny Glasto this decade (granted the years off have of course turned out to be scorchers). the cost of moving the festival vs the extra expenditure in dealing with the problems caused by flooding and masses of people mud-churning. even 2 or 3 weeks later could make a difference surely.

    kids just finishing their exams also make up only a small percentage of attendees and again i doubt it makes much difference. these kids go to download, reading and whatever other festivals go on all through the Summer, all of which tend to experience better conditions because they take place later in the season.

  9. 9

    stevem schmevem MOCK NOT THE SUN GOD — if you think the weather is bad when’s he is pleased…

    *rustles up quick wicker man to sort out unbeliever*

  10. 10
    Juliet on 29 Jun 2007 #

    As you know I agree with all yr points! And very definitely with the overall concept of punter representation.

    I also like Pete’s idea of making the Dance Village a Dance Cul-de-sac (avoid hordes of people tramping through all the time).

    It occurred to me this time to wonder whether a “no fires in campsites” policy (c.f. Glade) might not be a good plan. Drunk/fucked people + fire + very very flammable tents + very little fire safety provision (don’t tell me that with tents stacked in the way they are the handful of fire buckets would do any good at all in a serious fire) = am amazed that no one has yet got seriously hurt. Yes, I am old & boring & AGAINST GLASTONBURY TRADITION, oh well. I also do not wish to be set fire to while I sleep by some idiot. (Fires up in Stone Circle / outside of camping areas, no prob)

    If they moved Glasto it might clash with Glade! That would be a Bad Thing. Mind you, that weekend is apparently the most-likely-to-be-sunny in the average UK summer.

    An Thought: even if Mr Eavis didn’t want punter representation in *his* arrangements, an organised representation to the licensing committee might have an effect (particularly in e.g. the case of the numbers).

  11. 11
    Juliet on 29 Jun 2007 #

    Another Thought! Get the lovely Billy on the job! He likes Glastonbury & democracy & football & things!

  12. 12
    Pete on 29 Jun 2007 #

    As Charlie Brooker sez, the only real plus point of the backstage area is that it acts as a shortcut between the two main stages. Well that’s nice for the liggers, but it is this bit of traffic which causes the most congestion and churning. Time to move backstage?

  13. 13
    CarsmileSteve on 1 Jul 2007 #

    i think he’s got a four year license at 177,500 (the new binge drink britain laws allow this), so might not be that successful…

  14. 14
    Pete Baran on 2 Jul 2007 #

    My venue has a capacity of three hundred, but we usually limit it to 200 for comfort reasons. Its and upper limit, not a target!

  15. 15
    JB on 2 Jul 2007 #

    Why don’t you just stop going to it if its so shitty. I can’t believe people pay so much to go to something they know is going to be disapointing crap.

  16. 16
    Pete Baran on 2 Jul 2007 #

    Because so much of it is so good. they get so much of the actual festival right, compared to other grind’em out band in-a-field jobs that it is frustrating that little things don’t work. A week later I am remembering all the fun I had, tinged with the slight annoyance of waiting for the bus in the rain on Monday.

  17. 17
    DV on 10 Jul 2007 #

    Stupid question maybe – how serious are you about this supporters’ trust, because I want in (or I want to nominate some of my Dublin pals to be in). I know you mentioned not wanting to put ticket allocation as one of the things to hassle Boss Eavis on, but those of us who live outside the UK have some unique problems in this area.

  18. 18
    Tom on 10 Jul 2007 #

    I wonder if glastosupporterstrust.org (or some equivalent) is taken?

    I think this idea has “legs” too. Has Mr Boyle an opinion?

  19. 19
    Pete on 11 Jul 2007 #

    The aspect of ticket allocation we would not want to get involved in would be “being a member of the supporters trust entitles you to a ticket”. The procedures we would be happy to wade in on.

  20. 20
    Carsmile on 11 Jul 2007 #

    yes, i know i should have done more with this, but have been a bit busy with changing jobs and stuff, so if anyone else can pass it on, it would be appreciated.

    (unsurprisingly, fervent populist D Boyle was not averse to the idea ;))

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