Sheffield's Tramlines Festival 'likely to keep entry fee charges' if taken over by new owners

The crowds at Tramlines Festival.
The crowds at Tramlines Festival.

Visitors to Sheffield's popular Tramlines Festival will continue to be asked to pay for tickets if new owners take over the running of the event.

It was free to attend all stages in the first few years of the music festival but revellers have had to pay for tickets to enter the main stages since 2013 after sponsorship money was cut.

Current festival operators Tramlines Events are involved in talks to hand over the running of the event to a newly formed not-for-profit organisation called Music City Foundation.

And one of the key players involved in the deal said it is likely the festival will continue to have a 'paid element' in the future rather than reverting to the free for all policy in the early years.

David Healy, who co-founded the festival and is now part of the Music City Foundation team, said: "There has always been a big free element to the festival. There are many venues where it is free to enter.

"We introduced the paid element because there was an appetite for more high-profile acts, and this was not possible if we continued to make the whole festival free.
"I think the format of having the paid for and free elements will continue."

He said he could not discuss certain elements of the transfer of ownership deal as they were 'commercially sensitive'.

However he said there had been interest from 'other parties' outside of the city who had inquired about taking it over. He said the Music City Foundation bid was put together to ensure Sheffield people remained in charge of running the event.

The Foundation has launched a £1.2 million fundraising appeal to fund their bid. The organisation is asking people to buy shares packages starting from £200 so they can own a part of the festival.

The Foundation has been given until mid-June to raise the money and then the proposal would go before the board at Tramlines Events. They hope to takeover the running of the festival in 2018.

Sarah Nulty, festival director at Tramlines Events, said the festival had not been put up for sale originally. However they received a bid from the Foundation which included people who have helped to 'shape the Tramlines brand over the years' and they agreed to look at the offer 'out of respect for this work'.

She added that the deal has now been 'agreed in principal' subject to board approval.

There will be an official launch of the bid at an as yet undisclosed location on Wednesday, April 12, at 7.30pm. The Foundation has launched a countdown to the event on their website.

The event began in 2009 and last year attracted more than 100,000 people. Acts appearing over the years have included Public Enemy, The Charlatans and Echo and the Bunnymen. Economic experts say it is now worth £9m to the city's economy. Performers this year include The Libertines, Primal Scream and Kano.