Greenbelt Festival kicked off in earnest today at the Cheltenham Racecourse and for those of you not in the know, this is how they describe their own event:
The festival we put on is all-age and multi-disciplinary in its programming. Our roots in the Christian tradition, and our approach is inclusive and wide-reaching. Greenbelt is a festival like no other – both in terms of the breadth and depth of its content and also its vibe.
Greenbelt is a collision of the arts, faith and justice. Engaged with culture, inspired by the arts, sustained by faith, we aspire to be an open generous community reimagining the Christian narrative for the present moment.
Here’s the part that really interests me:
Our history is firmly rooted within a Christian tradition which is world-affirming, politically and culturally engaged. Ours is a belief that embraces instead of excludes. And, as such, the festival is family-friendly celebration, inclusive and accepting of all, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, background or belief.
Did you notice the “embraces instead of excludes” and “inclusive and accepting of all”? Now contrast this with a Tweet I noted earlier:
The irony is that I’ve never attended Greenbelt and the reason for this is that I’ve never been in a position to afford to do so, even though I live relatively nearby in Gloucestershire.
Some Christians pitch their tent for the entire duration, but you can also purchase single day tickets. Here’s the cost for the day:
Ticket prices: Adult £35 | Family £95 | U18 £25 | 0-4yrs free.
Way out of my league frankly. But if you’re in receipt of benefits, or a lone parent, and can prove it, you may purchase a concession ticket for the price of £25 per person per day, or £70 for a single parent family.
I’m no expert in benefits, but from my brief investigation these ‘concession’ tickets amount to roughly half the weekly income of those on benefits. Not forgetting costs for travel, food, etc needed for the day itself.
This doesn’t come across as exceptionally ‘embracing’ and ‘inclusive’ of the poor does it.
As I say I’ve never been to Greenbelt but from all I’ve read it certainly appears that the overall flavour is a left / liberal one. Peter Ould kindly confirmed this fact to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive, this is a commercial enterprise and so the argument will be thrown back that these prices are commensurate with other festivals. But is Greenbelt just another festival or does it have a distinct and special ethos? I would argue that it does; namely, a Christian left liberal bent.
This may all be sour grapes on my part as I can’t afford to take my family to the festival, and there are some speakers I’d love to have heard and met this year.
Anyway, Ruth Gledhill is Tweeting the current awful conditions at the event due to the torrential rain and what have you.
I would have said that God must be smiting them for excluding the poor; however, one of those speakers I would love to have met this year is Sue Marsh of the blog Diary of a Benefit Scrounger who Tweeted earlier:
So today was Manchester Pride AND greenbelt festival? God rained on the gays AND the Christians? But… But… What does this mean??
To which Peter Ould responded:
God rained on the gays and the liberals. You just made an excellent point inadvertently…
Anyway, here I am stuck in the dry and warm with Xfactor.