Cambridge Summer Music Festival Appeal

17:36 Tuesday 14th October 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: One of the county’s oldest and best known music festivals is in danger of closing. The Cambridge Summer Music Festival is in its 35th year, but its Chairman Tim Brown, former Head of Music at Clare College Cambridge has now written to all supporters, asking for donations to keep it going. He says they need £35,000 by Christmas, or the Festival must end. He joined me a little earlier for an exclusive interview to explain why it’s come to this.
TIM BROWN: We believe we have a wonderful festival, which has been going for 35 years. But we’ve hit hard times over the last few years, financially, and we decided that we should no longer go on starting every Festival with a deficit. And we decided that if we wanted to go on next year, we wanted to clear our books and start with a clean slate.
CHRIS MANN: How desperate are things? Is this actually a warning that you would have to close otherwise?
TIM BROWN: Yes. The Trustees met and decided that enough was enough, and that we would close unless we could raise the necessary money to clear our books and start with a clean slate.
CHRIS MANN: That’s a tough decision to make, given the heritage of this, and how much pleasure it brings to people. I know you all love being involved in this of course.
TIM BROWN: Yes. Absolutely. It was a very tough decision, and we put it off in a sense for a couple of years, thinking that we might be able to have a festival that would actually win us enough money to clear our deficit. But actually it never works that way, and we decided that enough was enough. (LAUGHS)
CHRIS MANN: So how are you going to raise that money? You’ve written I know to people who are connected to friends of the society. You are about to do a big media launch. This is your first interview about it all. What are you going to do?

TIM BROWN: Well we are saying to people that actually, in this day and age, £35,000 is not such a huge sum of money, and that we reckon that with all our friends and contacts and so on, if we ask them to give just £15, the cost of a couple of pizzas, probably less ..(LAUGHS) .. these days, we should be able to do it. And in fact we launched it yesterday and we already have raised £4,000 in ten hours.
CHRIS MANN: Very good. What about sponsorship, advertising, that kind of thing? What about it being the ‘Such and such’ Cambridge Summer Music Festival, and put a product in front?
TIM BROWN: Yes, I think the point is if we manage to achieve this goal, which we are optimistic about, then we have to think about how we move into the future, and perhaps restructure our financing, as you say, and do something along those lines.
CHRIS MANN: You’re a professional musician. You were at Clare College and other big jobs in the music business for many years. How many? Forty … ?
TIM BROWN: Forty five years.
CHRIS MANN: Forty five years. But you did it for the love of it.
TOM BROWN: Entirely. Yes. I did it because I’ve been involved in local Cambridge music as well as the University music ever since I came here. I started conducting a local choir when I was eighteen, when I first came up to university. And I’ve been associated with non-University music in Cambridge ever since. And I believe passionately in it. I was at a concert in Fulbourn last Friday. Ninety people turned up to this beautiful church in the country to listen to a fantastic piano recital by a top London pianist. We provide that kind of opportunity, and we’re very proud of it.
CHRIS MANN: So what’s the essence of it? Because there are things, as you say, happening all the time, whether it’s at Ely, Cambridge, Peterborough. We’re incredibly lucky in this part of the world. We’ve got some great venues and some great artists that live here. And of course all the colleges and the universities that support it. But what is so special about this festival that means it needs saving?
TIM BROWN: Well two things actually. One is that there’s an enormous amount of music going on in Cambridge, but most of it happens in the University year. When the University goes down in the middle of June, the end of June, there’s a couple of months when it’s very fallow in Cambridge from a cultural point of view. And so our music festival in July/August is incredibly valuable. There are a lot of tourists around, and indeed a lot of locals who are here and who love having that facility, that opportunity. And we provide music for children who are on holiday, Music for Kids we call it. We put on concerts in the Botanic Garden, at Wandlebury and so on. But apart from the Festival, which we believe has a real place in community music in Cambridge, we run these concerts called Music in Quiet Places, which is four concerts which we put on in parish churches, small churches in the community. We offer them very high quality music, but it saves them coming into Cambridge. We take music out to them. We have Spring concerts, and we do all sorts, and we also run a choral society in the Festival.
CHRIS MANN: Does the Arts Council support you?
TIM BROWN: Of course not.
CHRIS MANN: Why do you say that?
TIM BROWN: Well because .. (LAUGHS) .. because in Arts Council terms we’re very small. We’re small fry. We’d love to be supported like lots and lots of other organisations, but we’re on our own. We do get support from ..
CHRIS MANN: Time to get a big rich buddy, isn’t it?
TIM BROWN: Yes. Yes. We’re always looking for rich buddies. We always hope .. (THEY LAUGH)
CHRIS MANN: Well let’s hope one of them’s listening.
TIM BROWN: Yes. But they only need £15.
CHRIS MANN: Staring small.
CHRIS MANN: But if you’re very rich and would like to help out, please do. Now how can people get involved Tim? First of all you’ve got a website.
TIM BROWN: We have a website. Cambridge Summer Music dot com. Very easy to remember. If you go on that, on our home page, you will see an opportunity to go to Just Giving. So it’s one click away from giving us £15.
CHRIS MANN: OK. Obviously desperate times, it’s tough for you to come out publicly and say this. Thank you for doing that, and starting on this programme, your chances Tim – are you going to save this?
TIM BROWN: Yes we are. We’ve achieved 10% in ten hours. I think that’s pretty good. We’ve got until the end of December.
CHRIS MANN: Tim Brown there, Chairman of the Cambridge Summer Music Festival.