After long consideration Jim & Sue McLaughlin, who have been at the helm of the Whitby festival since its inception in 2000, have decided it is time to step down. This year’s festival (22-24 October) will therefore, in all probability, be the last.
Jim said, “The last 21 years have been a life-changing experience for us, and we have met and worked with so many wonderful people and experienced hundreds of amazing artists. We always hoped to hand over the reins but realise in these difficult times and because Musicport has never been a money-making venture that this is unlikely. One significant factor contributing to our decision is the increased cost of accommodation in Whitby which has dramatically affected costs for us accommodating artists and for our audience who generally stay in guest accommodation. When we started out one of the reasons for doing the festival at the time of year, we did was to help extend the tourist season. It is obvious that is no longer a primary aim as the tourist trade is now year-round!
Hundreds of artists have appeared at the festival over the years including The Buena Vista Social Club , Hugh Masekela, Richard Hawley, Toumani Diabate, The Levellers, Misty In Roots, Courtney Pine, Vieux Farka Touré, The Mahotella Queens & Lemn Sissay,
“We are proud of the achievements we have made introducing young people locally to music from diverse cultures, bringing top class international artists to the Yorkshire coast and creating an event that so many said was the highlight of their year, but we feel that the time is right for us to concentrate our time on running smaller local events and our music shop”.
Sue added, “Wanting to go out on a high, and having recently secured Arts Council funding for this year, we think the line-up is as strong as ever and fairly reflects the range of artists we have worked with over the years. Weekend and day and tickets are still available so if people are wondering whether to come, we’d obviously advise them not to miss this last chance! There will also be session tickets available on the door. We have strong Covid 19 measures in place to try to ensure people’s safety at the event, so we hope we can all have a good time and remember it as an event that successfully put Whitby on the international music map.
“We will miss working with the Pavilion and its manager, and our wonderful team of staff and volunteers, many of whom have been there since the start. We have events at The Coliseum in Whitby in November, December and next Spring and hope to do more outdoor events like In The Grove (which happened in Mulgrave Woods earlier this year) so we are not giving up on bringing high quality events to the area.”