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Secret Garden Party adopts social enterprise model

Organisers of the UK festival, which returns in July, are committing 65% of the event's profits to being a "force for good"

By James Hanley on 14 Apr 2023

Secret Garden Party

The UK’s Secret Garden Party is to evolve into a social enterprise-based music festival, with organisers committing 65% of the event’s profits to being a “force for good”.

The 30,000-cap event will become the biggest festival to embrace the model so far, setting out its mission to help in the “rehabilitation of at risk and disenfranchised individuals via the arts”. At least 65% of profit will go to front line organisations in these sectors, with the remainder going towards in-house partnerships and apprenticeship schemes such as Bridges For Music.

Launched in 2004, SGP has won several awards for spearheading new ideas including the introduction of MAST drug-testing, no branding policy, and immersive audience participation.

“SGP has always been founded on a principle of inclusivity,” says SGP founder Freddie Fellowes. “This is a word that’s meaning has evolved and grown up along with us. As a result, we deeply understand how much work and effort is involved in ensuring that a party is truly inclusive. Recently much has been noted regarding how inclusive the music industry is – or isn’t – and this set us thinking about how much more we could go with our core principles of being progressive, inclusive, and relevant.

SGP returns to Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire this summer from 20-23 July, headlined by The Libertines, Underworld and Fat Freddy’s Drop.

“Our theme for 2023, ‘A New Hope’, is not just some pithy reference to our pledge to have better loos this year,” explains Fellowes. “It is a real Declaration of Independence as we are ensuring that Secret Garden Party (Version 2.0) is a force for good by officially becoming a social enterprise.

“It is exciting to continue to show that there is another way to run live events and we know that ‘Why’ things are done is as important to our audience as the ‘How’. So, making this pledge to play it forward is something I see as vital right now.”

Relaunching the festival in 2022 following a five-year hiatus, Fellowes was keen to establish a more formal set-up that will benefit others.

“We came back because Covid – and lockdown – opened our eyes to what a privilege it was to hold a gathering such as SGP,” adds Fellowes. “Now, as we stare down the barrel of a cost of living crisis, that privilege is something to be leveraged further; by establishing ourselves as a social enterprise I can ensure that SGP is, and will always be, a force for good.”

The estate where SGP is held is family-run by Fellowes, meaning workshop space and accommodation facilities to mentor, patron and apprentice individuals will now be available year-round.


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