Printer Friendly Page

Cancellation of the 2018 Festival

For a brief summary of this information please go to this page.

Unfortunately we have been forced to cancel the 2018 Festival.

A section of the Children and Young Persons Act of 1963 is designed to protect youngsters from exploitation in such things as professional theatre and sport. This requires a ‘Child Performance Licence’ to be obtained for youngsters involved in these activities, and provides limitations on what they can and cannot do (hours etc).

This has never affected festivals, and no concern has ever previously been expressed about it in this regard. Our (the Festival Committee) view (based on what we regard as reliable advice) is that this legislation does not apply to us, nor to similar festivals.

Some new regulations were introduced in 2015 that had no effect on whether the legislation applies to us, but only introduces some changes to procedure and practices, but nevertheless these stirred concerns in this area. The interpretation of the legislation is left to Local Authorities, who have responded in different ways, depending on how they interpret the law.

We originally enquired last year as we were concerned, and were informed by the responsible authority (Devon County Council, DCC)  that this legislation did not apply to us. However, as a result of concerns in other festivals, and with our Federation of Festivals, we asked for confirmation of the position: DCC’s decision was effectively reversed, and we were informed that we faced legal action if we went ahead with the festival without complying with the legislation by obtaining Child Performance Licences.

This involves a complex administrative burden which we cannot practically undertake. DCC did offer us a simpler, streamlined system, but even this we felt posed too many potential difficulties to be practicable. Details of this simplified system are as follows:

  1. DPAF would inform all those submitting entries of the need to comply with this procedure.
  2. DPAF would provide a list of all Competitors under aged 16 or under, their Date of Birth, and contact details of the person submitting the entry to DCC. We are not certain of the data protection implications of this.
  3. DCC will send a form for each Competitor to each Enterer, to be signed by that Competitor’s parent or guardian and returned to DCC. This form asks for various health and contact information and the signature of a parent or responsible carer.
  4. DCC would provide, before the start of the festival, an overall licence for all children where the above procedure has been completed.
  5. Those children whose parents had not completed and signed the form and returned it to DCC by the stipulated date would not be included on the licence would not be able to participate in the festival.

Note that groups which include adults and children would have to give us details of any children included in advance so that they can be included in the licence.

Our concerns about this simplified system are:

  1. Some parents may object to this procedure, and we cannot be sure that they give explicit and fully-informed permission in advance.
  2. Some Enterers (eg teachers) may have difficulties getting the forms to parents.
  3. Some parents may fail to return the forms properly completed in time, for a variety of reasons.
  4. We may find ourselves turning away competitors at the door of the festival when they are expecting to perform and an entry fee has been paid to the festival.

Potentially this interpretation of the law also applies to music exams, amateur concerts involving youngsters and possibly other activities so is very wide-ranging and destructive. It also applies to youngsters resident in Devon who take part in such activities in other counties, whatever the interpretation of the law in those counties.

We are pursuing various avenues to clarify the interpretation of the legislation. Without a change from the current situation, we cannot hold the festival without placing ourselves (the Festival Committee) in jeopardy.  The potential consequences include fines and imprisonment.

We have therefore decided, reluctantly, that we must cancel the 2018 Festival, and hope that the issue can be successfully resolved in time for 2019.