Maurice Coen likes music, but he is not a fan of the Forbidden Fruit Festival.
Each night after the music stopped at the three-day festival earlier this month, there was some kind of nastiness for residents to deal with, from having their doors kicked, to having people urinate or defecate in their gardens, he says.
“It seems to draw a different breed of crowd, they are younger, more rowdy and troublesome,” says Coen, the chairman of High Road & Kilmainham Lane Residents.
Meanwhile, up in Santry, residents objected to the “MK Presents – Area10” gig, which was planned for Morton Stadium.
The summer festival seasons brings challenges to city residents, and festival producers alike.
Coen says locals in Kilmainham welcome concerts in the area. “Everybody likes to go out and everybody likes music,” he says.
Residents have no concerns about the upcoming Green Day concert, and Walking on Cars last Saturday drew a “lovely crowd”, Coen says.
However, residents have serious objections to Forbidden Fruit Festival. The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) hosts the festival on the grounds of the Royal Kilmainham Hospital.
Aoife Flynn, head of audiences and development at IMMA, says there are stringent conditions placed on them in order to get the licence for the festival, and that these were “strictly adhered to by War Management, the promoter of Forbidden Fruit”.
Under these conditions, the music should stop each night at 10:45pm, and Gardaí, Dublin City Council licencing staff and IMMA operational staff remain in the vicinity of the site for at least an hour after the event ends, Flynn said.
Coen said there was insufficient policing of the crowds after the event. If Forbidden Fruit is to go ahead in future, residents want to see a lot more.
They want to see gardaí on the surrounding streets after the event, plainclothes gardaí outside during the day, and portaloos outside the venue, he said.
“The crowd have no regard for the residents, and after the concert empties out the stewards are off the street, and the guards are only at the top of the street,” he says.
Gerry Kavanagh of the Garda Press Office said: “An adequate policing plan is put in place by local Garda management to ensure that the event is fully policed.”
Is it the Dance Music?
Maybe Dublin residents just don’t like dance music. It seems that at least some residents in Santry didn’t want the “MK Presents – Area 10” gig in their area.
“This is unfortunate, as we have a signed contract, paid the venue rental fee in full, constantly involved them in preparation for the event and fully engaged with all relevant local authorities including the Gardai and fire department in Fingal County Council,” Promoters Sequence Events said in a statement at the time.
The organisers rescheduled, and the sold-out event will go ahead in the Navan Racecourse, with free buses in place for ticket holders, according to the event website.
A spokesperson for Fingal County Council said that the decision “not to proceed with discussions with the promoters”, was due to the timing of the event being so close to the Morton Games. This “posed a risk to the most important event in the athletics calendar in Ireland”, she said.
She didn’t mention anything about residents’ concerns.
Is It Worth It?
There is always tensions with locals and festivals, says Jonathan R. Wynn, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts who has studied the impact of festivals on the urban environment in the US.
On balance, though, the pros usually outweigh the cons, he says.
“Festivals are fantastic ways to inject resources into a municipal economy,” he says. You may have short-term pain for long-term gain.
They are adaptable from year to year, you can test out what works and change things that don’t, he says.
“Festivalized cities are better than building big museums and stadia because they can help make cities more attractive, lively, and engaging, without massive public expenditure,” he says.
But, in response to questions on managing the issues raised, he said in the US festivals don’t generally attract the type of anti-social behaviour that residents are complaining about, for example people urinating in residents’ gardens.
His research looked at places where issues usually involved traffic disruption and reduced services for locals, rather than public-order offences.
Labour Councillor Rebecca Moynihan says she just isn’t sure Kilmainham is the right location for a three-day festival like Forbidden Fruit.
It’s different to relatively remote Phoenix Park, and more comparable to Croke Park – but there concerts take place for a few hours at night, and don’t disrupt the neighbourhood throughout the day, she says.
Coen says there used to be better consultation with residents in the past, when a large meeting was held that included residents. However, he says that no longer happens.
There also used to be a meeting after the event, where residents could give feedback, he says. He hasn’t received any invitation to such a meeting this year.
“All events have a dedicated residents’ hotline for the duration of the event, and a leaflet drop is also done in advance to local residents around our boundary,” says Flynn.
The Outdoor Event Licencing Office in Dublin City Council was particularly happy with the successful execution of the Forbidden Fruit, and contacted IMMA to tell them that, she says.