Over the past few years, we’ve been thinking a lot about financial inclusivity – in short, how best to open up our festivals and events to those on low incomes who have never been able to attend, due to financial pressures.
Festivals aren’t cheap – especially weekend camping ones. They certainly aren’t cheap to produce and they aren’t cheap to attend. It’s not as simple as offering cut price tickets for folks on low incomes, because saving for a festival ticket will never be a priority when you can’t pay your rent or put food on the table at home. And it’s not just the tickets – there’s the travel, camping equipment, food and drink, it all adds up.
Which is why, back in 2022, we launched our ‘Pay It Forward: Share The Love’ campaign, at our flagship festival, Shambala.
Starting in 2022, we gave our Shambala festival attendees the option to make a ‘Pay It Forward’ donation, whilst purchasing their festival tickets – and also gave them the option to make additional donations whilst getting their drinks in, at our festival bars. We also gathered donations from our artist’s guests.
With £10,000 raised for this campaign in 2022, we were able to get the ball rolling in 2023!
We were thrilled that this campaign had gotten off to such a strong start, and identified some fantastic charity organisations in the areas very local to Shambala’s festival site, who, using the funds raised, brought some of their clients along to join the party in 2023, on full ‘festival access packages’ – covering their entry tickets, food, drink, travel and accommodation. These organisations were:
THE LEAVING CARE SERVICE
The Leaving Care Service is part of The Northamptonshire Children’s Trust. They support Care Experienced Young People, aged 16 – 25 who were children in care, for example in foster care, children’s homes, semi-independent accommodation and so forth.
The Leaving Care Service is used by a lot of talented individuals, such as aspiring actors, singers and theatre technicians, who may not always get the opportunity to see professional musicians or artists, at festivals or gigs – so we were really pleased to be able to welcome them to Shambala this year.
Here’s what Rachel, from the Leaving Care Service had to say, post-festival:
“Our care leavers had their eyes opened to a new side of life. One person absolutely found their tribe enjoying the Rebel Soul tent workshops and discussion and volunteered at the Extinction Rebellion stand. He is hoping to come back next year in some capacity. Another spoke to every sound desk person there and would love to work there next year, and the other 3 simply learnt a lot about life. Only one had ever camped before, none had used compost loos, none had been in crowds that big, or had all their senses hit like that, and they all found new foods they loved. We had some challenges and overcame them, and have also learnt a lot as a service.”
And here are some beautiful words from Chris, the Leaving Care Services CEO:
“I am blown away by the support you have given to enable our care leavers community to come along to such a meaningful, real and inspiring festival. This has created memories that will last a lifetime and I know they have opened a window of curiosity about how a truly caring, respectful and kind society could be.”
HARBOROUGH ECOVILLAGE CIC
This fantastic organisation (known locally as The Village) is a non profit CIC, set up 3 years ago to work with and feed the local community, alongside promoting environmental sustainability. Their ‘Community Fridge’ has saved tonnes of food from landfill and their community café works on a pay-it-forward system. Their school outreach programme has reached more than 2,000 local school children.
They brought along some of their community members who are well-known, regular visitors to ‘The Village’ – as well as some young folks from the local youth centre (‘The Cube’).
Here’s what one of their service users, a local mum, had to say about her family’s experience:
“I really need to thank absolutely everyone. Whether you paid it forward 50p or £50 last year, this has been life altering for me. As a self employed, single parent to four children (3 of which are special needs), and working 2 jobs to make ends meet, there is no way I could have afforded to come to Shambala. We all had such an amazing time.
I didn’t have to cook or wash up for 4 days. That, in itself, was completely mind blowing. Add on to that all of the music and workshops etc etc and like I said, absolutely and completely life altering. I’ve cried tears of joy frequently this weekend (constantly embarrassing my poor kids!).”
Pay It Forwards funds raised in 2023:
We ran the whole shebang again in 2023, and, having totted up the totals, we’re very pleased to announce that the generous souls of the Shambala Festival community raised over £12,000 for our Pay It Forward pot in 2023 – meaning we’ll be able to grant full festival access packages for even more people to come along and share the love, at Shambala 2024 – stay tuned for more information incoming about the charity partners we’ll be working with next year.
If you’re keen to Pay it Forward and share the Shambala love, you can make a donation of any amount, via the nifty button below – even if you can only spare 50p, or £1, it really adds up!