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The true cost of a Festival

By Morgane Oléron, Founder Life on Fifth

I just finished watching Trainwreck Woodstock 99.
I took a few notes. 

I too have been to festivals and complained about the cost. For sure I have felt ripped off at times. Never did I burn down the place. But that’s another debate.

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THE ONE MILLION-DOLLAR QUESTION

 

This year I am part of the team hosting Enchanted. Every time I find myself organising an event, it is the same discussion: everyone is pondering over the right cost of the ticket. 

How to remain accessible while being able to compensate everyone fairly and deliver quality? 

 

For Enchanted, the ticket price is 300£. On top of that you add accommodation that can go from 0£ (free camping) to 200£ more (private double room). 

 

A lot of people might flip reading this: “£300+ for a 4 days weekend in Devon! That is expensive!”


 

LET’S DO THE MATHS TOGETHER

 

I hate maths. Always have, and always will. But I think it’s important I make an effort here:

 

-We are expecting/hoping to gather around 80 people. 

So basic maths would be: 
 

£300*80 = £24,000 

 

Out of those 80 though, there is the team and extended team, the volunteers and speakers as well as performers who will get free and/or heavily discounted tickets. 

 

So let’s say maybe 50 people pay the full ticket price. 

 

300*50 = £1,5000

 

LET THEM EAT CAKE

 

You gotta feed these people. And we are talking nice vegan/vegetarian locally produced food. Not Fyre Festival burgers.

  • 3 dinners

  • 2 breakfasts

  • 2 lunches

  • 1 brunch

For 50 people 

 

We love food but we are better at eating it than prepping it so we have hired professional caterers who quoted us £7,000. 

 

So we are down to £8,000

We will also need to feed the people who will arrive on Monday or the weekend before to help set up pre-festival. We have budgeted about 1000 for that for breakfast lunch and dinners for 5 days for 15 people. 

 

So we are at £7,000.


 

A PLACE TO CALL HOME

 

Then there is the venue.
Even if we live on-site, we do not own Selgars (yet)
We pay rent, to which we need to add council tax, electricity and heating as well as maintenance costs. We also have amazing Debbie living on site who we pay a part-time salary to help us with taking care of the guests and the space. 

We would usually rent for the week for about £8,000 depending on the event. But we are only budgeting £3,000 for this event. 

 

So we are down to £4,350.

 

KEEPING IT CLEAN

 

There is also the cost of recycling and commercial bins. 

Of course, we have to support performers and artists as much as we can

We have to provide some kind of decor/props

We do not have a clear overview yet but we are budgeting around 2000£ for that total. 

So we are left with £2,350. 

 

Within that, we need a buffer because things always cost more than planned. Let’s say £1,500.

 

With the £850 left… for us. Of course there might be more left depending on accommodation choices of the attendees. 


 

THE LEFT-OVERS

At the end of the day, even if there are 1500 left… we are 4 people spending a minimum of 5h a week on this for about 6 months. That includes prepping calls, and workshops, marketing and promoting, creating documents, guidelines, and email templates, answering questions, handling workflows and attendees' journeys, getting permits and ordering materials, and of course the build and clean up. 

We will probably not get more than a few hundred for our time. And that’s ok, as it is a choice we made, to put together this event and it will give us great pleasure making it happen.

THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG

 

But here you are. It is important to keep in mind that it takes a lot of effort for things to seem effortless on the surface. A lot happens behind the scene that costs time, energy, and well, money.  

The reason we wrote this piece was only to be transparent and honest about the fact that we wish we could make the event even more affordable but we need to be realistic and fair with those who are giving a lot of their time to make it come together.

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