The director of Godiva Festival has defended the decision evacuate and cancel performance’s in the Rhythm Tent.
John Hogan said a “very real risk of critical injury” prompted to the closure and said the decision was the only option available to ensure revellers got home safely.
The festival director addressed criticisms levelled at the event by one of the acts who was unable to perform after the last minute suspension of the Rhythm Tent programme.
Coventry rapper Jay1 was set to take to the stage at 7.40pm on Saturday (July 6), but after a huge crowd began to build from 6.30pm, the tent was evacuated at around 8pm.
Less than an hour later, the decision was made to suspend the entire programme, closing the tent for the night.
It prompted a furious response from Jay1’s social media channels – which posted lengthy tirades against the festival and its organisers.
But festival director John Hogan defended the decision saying there was a risk of injury to those inside.
Speaking on Sunday afternoon he said: “Unfortunately we had to suspend the programme in the rhythm tent yesterday (Saturday) afternoon just really to maintain the high levels of public safety you would expect of a local authority programming and promoting a public festival such as Godiva.
“We certainly have some first aid issues from inside the tent, but the whole point of actually suspending the programme was to avoid any further injuries.
“There were no critical injuries before we suspended the tent – and no critical injuries thereafter, which reflects of course, part of the rationale behind suspending, to avoid what was a very real risk of critical injuries.”
Why was the tent evacuated?
The Godiva Festival ‘s Twitter account revealed on Saturday night that the tent, which has a capacity of just under 2,000 was closed due to health and safety reasons.
This prompted much social media speculation, along with pictures surfacing of broken barriers inside the tent.
John said: “There are a combination of factors that went into play.
“It was also the volume of expectation outside of the tent. You know we open the front of the tent so those outside can witness the entertainment and benefit from it.
“Of course that crowd volume was growing and growing to the point where there were serious risks of surges and pressure that could have resulted in crushes and so forth.
“We want people to come to the event, and enjoy the event, but more importantly, to go home in one piece and safe, which is what they did.”
Response to artists
In the hours after the closure of the tent, a furious response on Jay1’s social media channels was posted.
It read: “Godiva festival would not allow me to perform today because apparently the “crowd was too excited for me” is that a f****** joke?
“People travelled down from Glasgow, London, Liverpool etc and you couldn’t let the show run because my fans were too excited to see me?
“This is a city where mans actually from as well.”
In response, John said: “It’s a disappointment, it really is, and I feel that frustration for the visitors who came, and of course the performers who couldn’t then perform, including of course Jay1.
“But really, we were only left with one decision.
“We looked at all sorts of alternatives, to put Jay1 on the main stage, even we looked at changing programmes today (Sunday). We ran a blank with those from either a logistic or technical issue so unfortunately we had to suspend that programme.
“I offered Jay1 our sincerest apologies and clearly there’s frustration, of course there would be.
“Not just Jay, but the other performers as well. And I share that. But Godiva Festival relies on the support of its audiences if it is going to grow, continue, flourish etc.
“I asked the audience to understand the decision and to help us with Godiva going forward for future years and support the festival. But I do understand it, and my role is to turn that negativity around to positivity and if you look out into the crowd today, there’s so many families enjoying what is a fantastic family festival.”