Anatomy of a Beer Festival Part 5

Part 5: The Budget


One of the main meetings before too much of the planning gets underway revolves around the budget.  Full details of anticipated income and expenditure  have to be submitted to CAMRA HQ for approval before the festival can go ahead including the costs for hiring security guards, first aiders, fencing, purchase of festival glasses , entertainment, publicity and advertising – the list goes on to a total of 34 items.


These costs, along with other items such as estimated attendances by members and non-members at each session and admission prices, effectively decide your beer and cider order quantities.  You then have to account for the estimated costs of buying it in (by style) and estimated selling prices to reach a satisfactory break-even point.


There are other costs which are hidden, such as costs of PAT testing your equipment, purchasing insurance (HQ make each festival pay for its own cover although they pay the annual premium for a block policy), staff transport home and administration costs.


Although we are a small festival, our estimated expenditure for 2014 would be just short of £16,000.  Given the failings of the 2013 festival everything had to be scaled back.  This amount is obviously much smaller than an event such as Derby’s and we don’t have same economies of scale that they can enjoy on certain things either.


For small festivals such as our own it’s always finely balanced as you have to take into account the two extremes.  On the one hand you could get glorious weather all weekend, meaning punters are thirstier and we get a potential increase in numbers like we had at our second festival.  On the other hand the weather could be atrocious (as we had at our first and for large parts of our third and fourth festivals) meaning less thirsty drinkers and a potential decrease in numbers.


On the subject of punters, I’ve always found it quite astonishing when members expect to get in for free at our festival.  Locally, Derby is the only one that has this concession and with a branch of that size, the sheer numbers they attract allows for more flexibility and opportunity.  Most city festivals are the same; the sheer size of their catchment area gives them an advantage over us.  Three or four hundred free entrants has a much more significant impact on a festival of our size where the budget is and has to be much tighter.


After much debate we settled on a final budget and submitted this to HQ for approval.  As always we waited with baited breath for the outcome.


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