General articles

Ringing Roadshow

6th September 2014

Newbury Racecourse

“Everything for the ringer you are and the ringer you want to be”

Roadshow ticket prices

As I write we are in the final testing stages of the “Buy Tickets” page on the Roadshow website and this provides the opportunity to address some of the comments that have been made about ticket prices on various forums and in the pages of The Ringing World.

We are enormously fortunate in ringing that we have a hobby where the capital equipment is provided nearly free of charge, and when it is in need of maintenance or renewal this is often underwritten by organisations and individuals who are not ringing related or ringers. I cannot think of another pastime that is so fortunate.

Just occasionally, however, a ringing organisation, usually the Central Council, decides to undertake an event which brings us ringers up against some commercial realities. The Ringing Roadshows are a case in point. Since the Roadshows became too big to be held in school halls we have had to deal with locations that are not prepared to reduce their normal hire charges simply because we are bell ringers, or even that we are a charity. Accordingly, ticket and stand prices have had to come close to being “realistic” in commercial terms.

Two other things have changed since the last Roadshow in 2008. Firstly, pressure on Council reserves is ever greater, and, as outlined by John Harrison in The Ringing World of 9th May 2014, it is unlikely that those reserves will be replenished any time soon. Accordingly, it is more than ever important that this Roadshow breaks even. This has been the financial aim of all previous Roadshows, but, as discussed below, has not always been achieved.

Secondly, we are able to take advantage of the proliferation of means to purchase tickets by using debit or credit cards to give potential customers several ways of paying, and card purchase will certainly be most convenient for the majority. However, accepting card payments is a cost to the seller. In common with many I deplore the use of card surcharges, and so decided to build the costs of card usage into our budget and set a ticket price which would cover this among other costs. Thus, for the majority of tickets sold, the Roadshow will not receive the full ticket price.

There have also been some complaints that children and young people aged seven and over have to pay the full ticket price. This decision was debated at length and I took into account the experience of previous Roadshows. It is not the case that under 16s have always been given free entry. A whole variety of pricing structures have been designed in the past to try to encourage young people and families to attend. It is, however, true that the 2008 Stoneleigh Roadshow offered free entry to under 16s as part of their objective to encourage young people to attend, but the organising committee’s review of the event indicated that this strategy brought limited success. It also contributed to the overall four figure loss that was made on the 2008 event, although the weather was certainly a factor. As mentioned above the Council is less able to contemplate a loss on the event this year than it was in 2008.

In deciding to charge full price for children and young people, the organisers looked at other attractions and their charges, and while £10 is towards the top of the range of prices for children, cheap children’s rates are often accompanied by very expensive adult ticket rates for attractions in which parents cannot take part. The organisers also took into account that there will be activities which children can enjoy, whether ringers or not. These include joining in with handbell ringing, both tune and change ringing, handbell concerts, learning to ring on a mini-ring and to juggle, trying out the many ringing jigsaws some of which will be on sale, and seeing their teddy parachute from the Grandstand. We would love to have more attractions, particularly for younger children, but as these would most likely not be ringing related they would involve hire charges which we can only meet if we can sell the maximum number of tickets.

So, please help us make this a really successful event for all ages by buying your ticket in advance, encouraging every ringer you know to buy tickets, and if you happen to have access to a game or activity suitable for children of any age that you could bring to the Roadshow we would love to hear from you.

JACKIE ROBERTS
Ringing Roadshow Organiser
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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers