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Campus Festival, which usually takes place around Week 9 of Lent Term, has been cancelled.
As far as SCAN has been informed the reasoning behind the cancellation of this big event is due to a lack of attendance at the last Campus Festival and a lack of funding.
Chris Osborn, who began Campus Festival when it first started 6 years ago, said he thinks that the cancellation of the event is a serious mistake for LUSU and is a “a step backwards in their support of societies and the performing arts”.
Whilst Osborn sees that there were issues with the event, he feels that these could have been rectified by some more planning and funding. Osborn told SCAN that he thinks “the decision to increase performance and society opportunities in Roses is a good move by LUSU but should not be at the expense of their separate showcase event, societies should have their own showcase and not just be an add on to Roses”.
Osborn felt that “the communications around the changes have been disastrous” and he sees this as one of the main issues. He said that there has been “very little information being received by the performing societies who are the core part of the event and those messages containing mixed information about whether Campus Fest was cancelled or being combined with Roses”. He said that this is unacceptable because groups have been rehearsing for a long time for an event which has, at a late date, been cancelled.
A third year student, who has asked for their name to remain private, spoke to SCAN about how this cancellation will affect the societies. They told SCAN that for many societies “Campus Fest is our biggest event of the year. It’s where we are given the most publicity, where the large number of people get the chance to see us do what we do best – and now that opportunity is in many ways gone”.
This student is said that they can “see no reason why societies involved weren’t told in advance” even though LUSU knew early on that there was a high chance that it would have to be cancelled. Despite this, the student says that they are grateful that the union is still trying to work around the lack of Campus Festival to promote societies but says that making it part of Roses might not be the best opportunity to showcase talent.
They said that if LUSU want to make the showcasing of societies work then “they need to be more efficient in organising the solution and take more responsibility for the problems that their issue has caused”.
Osborn also commented on what needs to be done now, saying “LUSU needs to make societies and the performing arts a political priority to provide the best support to our groups, which are the primary engagement for many students and to showcase the incredibly talented students we have at Lancaster University”.
Natalie Sutcliffe, the current VP Activities, said that LUSU feel that Roses will be the “perfect opportunity to provide our societies with an even bigger platform to share their talents and passions”.
She said that the specifics of the “Roses Fest” will be released during the launch of Roses itself but she did mention that LUSU are “really excited about the scale of this event and the amazing cultural offer it is going to provide students throughout the weekend”.
LUSU have worked with performance groups and Sutcliffe said that they are “confident this is a great offer” for the students of societies. Despite this she understands that there is going to be a lot of disappointment following the cancellation of Campus Festival, particularly for those in their final years.
There is good news, however, for the students who are not in their final year as Sutcliffe told SCAN that they are “working closely with our sponsors to try and bring Campus Fest back next year.”