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the Razz: DISCONNECTED; Organisers pull the plug on festival because of recession.

Byline: BEVERLEY LYONS AND LAURA SUTHERLAND

THIS year's Hydro Connect Festival has been cancelled because of the downturn in the economy.

Organisers of the award-winning boutique music event felt that rising overheads, mixed with fears over the recession, could prove too risky for punters - so they have decided to shelve the event this year.

But the festival may return in 2010 in the summertime - it's usually held in September - and over two days instead of three.

Stars such as Bjork, The Jesus & Mary Chain, LCD Soundsystem, Beastie Boys, Franz Ferdinand, Elbow and Glasvegas have played Connect in the past.

But the site at Inveraray Castle, Argyll, which was picked for its unrivalled beauty, posed problems.

The small population in the area meant there was a lack of an existing festival crowd and organisers had to attract an audience as well as stage the event.

Promoter Geoff Ellis, who is also responsible for T in the Park, said: "We've been taking a look at things - including bringing the costs down, which is not really possible to do while maintaining the quality.

"In a rural location, it costs a lot more to do the event because it's smaller than something like T in the Park. Although it doesn't cost as much as T, the equipment costs are higher on a like-for-like comparison.

"And policing, transport and relocation costs are also high."

Despite Connect winning Best New Event Award in 2008 and attracting an average of 15,000 festival-goers on each of the three days, it made initial losses. It was expected to become profitable this year if the economic climate had been healthier.

Geoff added: "Connect's audience is arguably affected more by the credit crunch than other festival markets, so it'd be foolish to expect the growth necessary to help it thrive in 2009. The established demographic for T in the Park is primarily 18 to 25-year-olds, who don't all have mortgages and kids.

"Connect's audience is starting to feel the pinch. We'd have anticipated a growth in attendees by year three.

However, based on the current financial climate, we know this will not be achievable."

Geoff is using the next 12 months to reshape the festival, possibly making it a two-day event in June or July rather than September.

He said: "In September, kids a re back at school and people have to find childcare. A weekend in the summer would possibly be better."

Over the next few months, Connect organisers will host "smaller associated events". Geoff said: "We'll have some special events for about 500 people from our Connect database in and around Argyll just to keep the vibe going.

There will be some interesting names, but they will be more like secret gigs.

"In the meantime, thanks go to the Duke and Duchess of Argyll for being so supportive of Connect from the beginning, as well as to the festival's committed fans who have shown real passion for the event. We look forward to welcoming you back soon."

'Connect's audience is arguably affected more by the credit crunch'
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 2, 2009
Words:509
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