Sunday, 7 June 2015

Liverpool beerex to go?

A 'Merseyside Beer Exhibition' glass
from 1978, given to me by Tru Smith.
I've had a couple run-ins with Liverpool CAMRA Branch, mainly over my views on their antiquated methods of selling tickets for their beer festival that I wrote about in November 2011 (they steadfastly refused to put tickets on-line until a year or two ago). I was, bizarrely, even accused of hating Liverpool by someone with a seriously malfunctioning sense of proportion: he was completely wrong, of course.

CAMRA's beer festival in Liverpool is one of the earliest in the country, and was originally called the Merseyside Beer Exhibition. It has been in a number of venues, but for many years has taken place in the impressive venue of the Catholic Cathedral crypt. It is always well-run, has a good range of beers, interesting food on sale and live music in one room. Our band has played there too, something of a career high!

So what is the problem? Quite simply, lack of volunteers, as reported in the Liverpool Echo. Having worked at quite a few beer festivals over the years, including Liverpool once, I know that there's usually no problem staffing the bars: everyone wants to work behind the bar, enjoying the craic with the customers and the easy access to the beers. Fewer people want to do the other jobs, including setting up and taking down, stewarding the event, sitting on admissions, etc, but these are essential. A few cheeky volunteers insist they they will do nothing but bar work, but that is to my mind unacceptable.

There's no shortage of competition in Liverpool nowadays, something I referred to in April, but it would be a shame to see this long-standing festival go to the wall.

5 comments:

  1. I must say I'm a bit surprised by this - looking at MerseyAle Liverpool CAMRA appears to be a big, vibrant and very active branch.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree the mag gives that impression.

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    2. I volunteered at the Crypt festival a good few years ago, and it was a laugh working the bar - but my mate working the door by the toilets had a lot less fun! But I tend to simply want to attend the festival nowadays - and getting people to agree on same night as a punter etc makes volunteering on another day even harder.

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  2. Surely at the simplest level.... If you have a sold out event and are struggling for volunteers, maybe paying them would be a start?

    I'd be surprised if the LOB festivals (Waterloo) / Liv Craft etc are unpaid staff.

    The Crypt festival is so good, and in such a great building that they should just add a quid to the ticket price and pay for the staff they need.

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  3. ...Liverpool CAMRA should also be very careful... A significant reason to pay the subscription is to get priority access to festival tickets. No festival? Well, that membership doesn't look such a good deal.

    They just need to run it like a business and do it properly - see the amateur hour ticket sales system in the past.

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