Access All Areas June 2019 - Page 32

JUNE | COVER FEATURE to Mendip Council’s chief executive Stuart Brown the other day, and he said if people around here really knew how much activity is down to the festival they’d never believe it. “Up to 15 miles from here there’s businesses feeling the effects of it, and he [Brown] says wherever he goes there’s someone making a good living because of the Festival. The benefits are incalculable: the taxis, the shops… and then there’s the cultural aspect.” Indeed, Glastonbury was declared the ‘most shared’ event of 2017 by EE, proving its free-wheeling cultural ethos has translated seamlessly into the 21st Century. But all this activity is underpinned by Glastonbury’s legendary charitable policy, of which Oxfam, Greenpeace and WaterAid are prominent beneficiaries. For Eavis however, it’s the local ventures that he likes to roll his sleeves up for: “The things I really enjoy doing are those that benefit the area. I donated land and stone for a local social housing project, which I lease for nothing. It’s been going about 14 years, and they’re beautiful stone houses. The village are very supportive. We quarry our own stone. It’s local stone and local houses for local people. You can’t beat it. And it means young people, and kids Glasto gives back Since 2000, each year Glastonbury Festival has paid more than £1m to charities and local good causes. Local projects previously supported by Festival income include: • Building the new Pilton Working Men’s Club • The completion of a housing project providing housing with affordable rent for offspring of villagers who cannot afford Pilton prices • Renovating the Glastonbury Abbey Tythe Barn in Pilton and establishing the Pilton Barn Trust • Building the original pavilion, football pitch, tennis courts in Pilton Playing Fields • Rebuilding of the Pilton Playing Fields Pavillion • Renovation of the child’s play area in the Pilton Playing Fields • Recasting the damaged medieval bells in Pilton Parish Church 32 come to the village, which gives it a character.” Despite the magnitude of this ‘Glastonbury Effect’, the festival is no stranger to opposition, yet Eavis looks back on his court battles with nostalgia: “I had to work a big charm offensive to keep the Festival going after various licensing threats. I’ve been up against mayors and people wearing silly wigs, while I’m standing there in my shorts and sandals. And there’s nothing silly about that is there?!” he jokes. “It took 35 years of really hard work, and all those objections. But we’re there now, and I must admit I did enjoy that period. The court cases were good fun, and well reported. It was a ‘David and Goliath’ thing, and I was David. It was tough at times though… and I deserve the two trains in my name now,” he chuckles. “But I didn’t lose any money during that time, which was good. And I did like winning those cases.” As well as new acts, there are many new structural additions to look forward to this year. “We come up with new stuff all the time,” says Eavis. “Rock ‘n roll is a bit flaky on its own, so we’ve introduced a lot of other stuff to the Festival that makes it different and gives it a heart and soul.” Eavis mentions a new treetop stage in The Wood where Shakespeare will be performed nightly. “We worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, who are taking over the stage, and doing bits and pieces. It’s been great fun.” Other new elements for 2019 include: a re-jig of the Shangri-La area, with Earache Records confirming a ‘proper stage’; a new ‘hidden gem’ micro-venue called No Average Groove; a newly-designed Sonic Stage; a bigger Block9 area – double the size no less; and a new 60-metre Victorian Pier created by long-standing Festival artist Joe Rush. Michael and Emily have done a bang-up job again then, but Glastonbury’s founding father is still highly motivated: “It’s important to keep going and prove you’re still there,” he says. “They say to me: ‘Your daughter’s doing it now isn’t she?’, and I say: ‘Is she?’. She’s fantastic, Emily is. She doesn’t like the public facing stuff so much but she’s great with people one-to-one. She’s very clever, and is good at handling me, and we get on really great most of the time. We bounce ideas off each other.” The full realisation of these ideas will be laid bare when 135,000 people head to Glastonbury Festival on 26-30 June to experience 135,000 unique event journeys. Now which train to book?