Keeping it green at Split Festival

Rob Deverson, chairman of the Ashbrooke Sports Club.
Rob Deverson, chairman of the Ashbrooke Sports Club.
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NEXT month’s Split Festival at Ashbrooke Sports Club is set to be a celebration of music from home and away. The Guide caught up with festival chairman Rob Deverson, pictured, to talk about his hopes for the festival, and his plans to conquer Europe by becoming the greenest festival on the continent.

TheGuide (TG): So Rob, what are your hopes and expectations for the Spilt Festival this year then?

Rob Deverson (RD) : We’d obviously like to see a bigger event, only because it creates a real buzz among people, and that’s one of the most important things, people come and have a good time and enjoy themselves.

 There is no such thing as a VIP at Split. I mean everyone who comes to the festival should be a VIP and we, as a festival, want to focus on our visitors. Of course we will look after our bands, but it’s about the festival goers. If they have a good experience, they’ll want to come back.

TG:You’ve alluded to the fact you want to make it a special experience. As chairman, how are you going to create the special experience?

RD: Firstly, we’ve planned to become the greenest festival in Europe, which is an experience in itself, but also the quality of the artists we have attracted to Split this year. Yet, it is the small things that make all the difference. The food this year will be great and the prices of alcohol will be reasonable too.

 You know, you’ve seen it with the Take That gig at the Stadium of Light people were paying £4.50 for a pint of John Smith’s and people who came to me said they felt like they were being exploited and however good the concert is, it’s always going to leave question marks. So keeping our prices at a fair level is important to us and we did the same last year, so it is important for us to keep everyone happy.

 Involving the families is absolutely essential too.

 To make it a true festival you need to have kids there, and parents and toddlers running around. We also have the policy of allowing under 11s in for free, so it allows parents to bring their kids and create a safe and good atmosphere.

TG: You have said that you plan to make Split the greenest festival in Europe. How are you planning on doing that and do you think it’s feasible?

RD: Yes I think it is. One of the things we have already decided to do is conduct entry interviews. What we mean by this is asking the audience on the gate how they arrived, and this will allow us to monitor the carbon footprint on the travelling.

 We are also running a free bus from Park Lane Metro to the festival site and this will result in less people coming by car.

 We’ll also use only recyclable materials on the site – cups, plates etc. So when you add all that together, you can take certain measurements and find out how good we were at being green.

 Personally, I don’t think we are going to get there in one year, but nevertheless even things like bio-diesel that we can use to run the generators becomes an important part of the festival’s ethos.

TG: How much hard work has gone into making it bigger and better than last year?

RD: An enormous amount. If you are going to improve on last year then you have to get more creative and try new things all the time.

 New things, inevitably, means more organisation, organisation means people need to put some effort in, so to make it a better festival it’s going to need more hard work from everybody. And I think what I’m really pleased about is how much commitment we’ve got from people.

TG: On the music side, how did you attract such artists like the Drums and The Charlatans?

RD: We’ve been enquiring about programming for the event for about six months, and the first meeting for Split 2011 was before Christmas, so we’ve been working a lot behind the scenes just to get to this point.

 I think it’s partly down to the kudos of the festival and partly down to our connections within the music industry and they’ve been able to get involved and influence things a little bit.

 Last year it was all about who knew who, so we managed to get Maximo Park and The Futureheads because they are local lads and they were quite looking forward to taking part in it.

 This year we had to be bolder and look further afield. Of course it has cost us a lot more money and that’s why we take a risk at the start in the sense that if we didn’t sell that right amount of tickets we wouldn’t be heading in the right direction.

 But it’s a gamble and a calculated risk, and with the line-up that we’ve got and the names we are going to add over the next few weeks means it’s going to be an amazing draw for the spectators.

l Split Festival takes place on September 17 and 18. For tickets visit www.splitfestival.com