LETTER FROM TIM JUPP
It is with enormous sadness and disappointment that the Big Church Day Out Trustees and Team are announcing that BCDO North will be cancelled in 2019 and beyond.
Having recently met to pray and discuss at length the future viability of continuing with the Big Church Day Out North, the Trustees have come to the conclusion this would create such a level of financial uncertainty that it would be irresponsible to put the charity in such a position if we were to move forward with BCDO North.
Firstly, we want to say the most enormous thank you to all those in the North West that have shared our vision and journeyed with us over these past two years to help create two amazing events that we know impacted many lives. The commitment and support from those that came was incredible, and we are so grateful to the many that invested both practically and financially into a vision for the church that we had every hope would be around for many years to come.
As many of you know, the Big Church Day Out is a hugely expensive event to put on, and whilst we have never looked at tickets sales to cover all of our costs, we do nonetheless need a certain critical mass to offset the other income streams.
The projected numbers that were needed to build the North event longer term were 15,000 attendees in year one and then a healthy increase in year two. Unfortunately, we only achieved 12,000 in year one and then very surprisingly to us and many others, we did, in fact, have a few hundred less in year two, and saw no growth. We are very aware that events the size of BCDO need a few years to grow to a sustainable level, but because of the lower than projected numbers in the first two years, we have sadly not been able to afford the luxury of having enough time to keep building.
If you have already purchased a ticket for BCDO North 2019 we would love to see you at BCDO South 2019. We will be in touch with all ticket holders to discuss whether you’d like to come to BCDO South or receive a full refund.
The Team and Trustees remain more committed than ever to the original vision of BCDO; that through creating a space for unity, worship and evangelism, the Big Church Day Out might be a light on a hill for the church in the UK for a long time to come. We will be throwing all our efforts into developing the site at Wiston House over the next few years, which has the capacity to double in size, and look forward to welcoming people from all over the UK on the May Bank Holiday weekend each year.
Once again, we are truly sorry for having to publish this very sad news, and want to thank you in advance for your understanding.
With a grateful heart
Tim Jupp and the BCDO Trustees
For those who might want to know more, here are some questions that have been asked which we hope might be helpful.
1. Did BCDO set its sights too high by projecting 15,000 to attend?
We don’t believe this was an unrealistic number to project as over the last 5 years we have sold more than 20,000 tickets to people within a reachable drive of Capesthorne Hall. These have included Big Church Live events in Birmingham, West Bromwich, Stoke, Liverpool, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford, Harrogate, Durham, Teeside, Pontefract, Lincoln, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle.
We have also met face to face with more 1000 church leaders in the last 2 years, with one on one meetings, Churches Together meetings, denominational and network meetings, as well as having a presence at many other events.
In addition, unlike a brand new event, there is also considerable awareness and trust in the BCDO brand built up over the last 10 years.
2. Are you stopping because it was hard to get artists to come to two BCDO’s?
No, in fact it has been easier to book artists having two events as no international artists want to come to Europe for just one event. Having two large anchor events for them made it easier for them to commit.
3. Could you not just put up prices to help cover the costs?
Our vision is to make the event as inclusive to as many as possible. Whilst we pride ourselves in being one of the best value national Christian events available, we did put up prices more than any other year in 2018. This subsequently contributed to the lack of growth at BCDO North in year two, rather than creating growth and more revenue.
4. Could you just run a cheaper event in the North West ?
We very much didn’t want to short change anyone and create a lesser experience for those in the North than BCDO South. Also, many of the costs remain very similar whether you have 10,000 or 20,000 on site and so reducing costs significantly is easier said than done.
5. Why was BCDO North held on the same days as Cherish?
We have always known that holding BCDO North on the same days as Cherish was not an ideal situation by far for either event, and particularly when we so love what Cherish brings to the church too. However, we simply did not have another option on dates as a second BCDO event had to happen whilst the international artists were in the UK, and so it was on those same days or not at all.
After extensive research it was considered that the Friday/Saturday option was the least of two ‘evils’, instead of holding BCDO North on the Saturday & Sunday. This is largely due to the fact that for the event to grow longer term it would have needed to have been accessible to a far wider geographic reach, even including Scotland, and with the event finishing on a Sunday night before many went back to school after half term, or to work that day, was deemed by most as far too challenging a proposition, and so hence BCDO North was held on the Friday and Saturday.
6. Is it possible to hold one event more centrally in the UK?
There is a great ‘God’ story behind the beginnings of BCDO and why we started the event at Wiston House in West Sussex, the home of the Goring family who had been praying over the land for many decades. So we feel confident that BCDO south is in the right place there. We have also invested hundreds of thousands of pounds into the infrastructure of that site over the last 10 years to make the site work for the large numbers that attend.
If we were now to move the event to a new central location the most likely outcome is that the combined crowds at a central location would not initially be sufficient to create a sustainable event. It is unlikely that the BCDO South crowd would travel to a central location with the event so established in Sussex, and that in itself could cause the ending of BCDO in just one year. In the same way, from our experience in the North West the majority of the crowd that attended were quite local to the site, and those from further afield in Lancashire and Yorkshire etc etc were reluctant to travel to Cheshire, so even less likely to travel to a central location.
So the outcome initially would be just one much smaller event which is not sustainable for BCDO.