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Michael Eavis Interview

15 May 2002

An intimate chat about the festival - from the organisational challenges involved in running such a huge affair to the ethical and practical reasons why people can not jump the fence any more.

Imagine our excitement when the big man, the 'Godfather' of festivals and the most famous farmer in the world invited us down, not only for a good old chat, but also to give us a personal guided tour of Worthy Farm - which regularly becomes The Glastonbury Festival. The site was hauntingly quiet without the hundred thousand festival goers we would usually see there, but still retained its uniquely enchanting air.

As Michael drove us around the rolling green fields in his land rover, we talked about the festival - from the organisational challenges involved in running such a huge affair to the ethical and practical reasons why people can not jump the fence any more... Here are some highlights from the conversation...

Virtual Festivals: So, why is buying a ticket is so important this year?

Michael Eavis: We're making the case that you need to buy a ticket for three reasons. One there's the upgraded security patrols, the engineering of the fences and the fact that you won't even be able to get a bus to the site or a car into the carpark without tickets; two there's the responsibility everyone has for the future of the festival; and three there's the moral duty towards the charities - Oxfam, Water Aid, Greenpeace - who all benefit enormously from the money raised by the festival. That last one is massively important - without the festival the money will just stop. Do people care about that? I hope they do.

So what about people who just think the fence and security is a big challenge?

Whether or not people see the security and the engineering as a reason to buy a ticket or simply a challenge isn't really that important. What people should realise is how vital the other two points are. I don't want people to think that we intend this to be the last Glastonbury Festival - but whether it is or not is down to how people behave this year. It's a bit like looking after the environment - we all have to act responsibly or we'll mess it up for everyone else.

Ultimately we're spending more - a lot more - on the organisation of the festival this year. But it's a fine line between what we spend now and being able to keep it running in the future.

Of course you're probably more in tune with what people are intending to do aren't you? I mean, people tend to tell me what they want me to hear don't they… they're not telling me the truth most of the time!

Well there's a fundamental cultural problem with the rock ideal of being anti-establishment, just goes with the territory doesn't it?

Yeah, I guess we are pretty established now after 32 years. But I was watching the hippy film about Woodstock the other day, and they really missed the point when they tried it again [in 1999]… I mean all that Woodstock non-refundable plastic money, it was a real racket! That's why they had all the trouble with people burning stalls. We don't get any of that because people know that we're doing it right. That's why we've lasted so long.

It's certainly true that in relative terms there's very little trouble at the festival when you compare it to a Saturday night in pretty much any major town.

That's right, there's no real conflict - just a few individuals who make the headlines.

And what about ticket sales this year?

Excellent. We started selling them late because of the licence hold-up, but they went so much faster than any other year - it's fantastic really.

- Click here to discuss this on the Festival Forums!
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