Tempers flare over ‘double charge’ at Observatory festival
THE OBSERVATORY Festival of Art kicked off last night amid threats of court action and widespread unhappiness over the R20 cover charge.
Road closures also infuriated residents trying to get home after work yesterday.
Several business owners slammed the organisers for not communicating properly and being disorganised, but the gate fee drew the most criticism. Most of the suburb’s Lower Main Road falls within the festival area.
Mike Webber-Harris, owner of the Independent Armchair Theatre, said they had to charge patrons an entrance fee to cover the cost of their bands so festival goers would land up having to pay twice.
They had spent the whole year trying to give a platform to local artists and had been hoping to make some money after coming out of the quiet winter season.
Webber-Harris said they realised the organisers had had to pull the festival together at the 11th hour after the previous project manager, Chakan Hislop, was asked to step down for nondelivery.
Neil van Vuuren, owner of Obz Café, which also charges an entrance fee for live music, said he had a regular coffee trade on a Saturday who would now have to pay to get into the festival area.
The gate fee would also affect people wanting to go to the hairdresser, book shop or grocery shop.
“In a way it will keep the riffraff out but it’s unfortunate that there will be a double charge,” Van Vuuren said.
Previously known as the Obzfest, the popular longstanding festival has become notorious for pickpockets and crime.
Van Vuuren said there had been threats of a court interdict to stop the festival taking place.
“But we came to our senses because we want to make it work.”
The organisers had also tried to get a permit to sell alcohol on the Village Green but business owners had signed a petition to prevent this.
Festival publicist Myrna Burgess said the current team of six had had to put the festival together in three and a half weeks after Hislop was asked to step down.
“We’ve pulled rabbits out of hats for this and I’m confident it will go off well.”
She said they had no budget when they started which was why they had to charge an entry fee.
NO WAY: Observatory residents are upset about the road closure.