The UKBlues Awards have been created by UKBlues to give the blues community in the UK the opportunity to recognise and applaud those involved with the blues in the UK in all spheres and at all levels.
Many people have expressed the opinion that the UKBlues Federation is the ideal body to undertake the organising, running and overseeing of an annual awards process.
Particularly so given that it is an Affiliate of the Blues Foundation and an Active Member of the European Blues Union as well as the organiser of the annual UKBlues Challenge.
Both the European Blues Union and The Blues Foundation are supporting and endorsing these Awards.
The UKBlues Federation is disappointed to have to announce that the 2019 FORM UKBlues Awards will not now take place. The reasons for this are two-fold.
Over a period of more than two months, we have been seeking to finalise a hire contract with Preston Guild Hall (PGH). After a number of redrafts, the final document supplied by PGH still contained a number of errors but, more significantly, sought to impose upon the UKBlues Federation and its Board members liabilities that went far wider than common law and against which we were not reasonably able to obtain insurance protection. Having sought a legal review which broadly confirmed our concerns, we had no option but to cancel the proposed hire of PGH for the Awards event on Saturday 27th April 2019.
We have worked hard to try to source a suitable alternative venue which is both available and feasible but these efforts have proved unsuccessful .
In order to identify the five finalists in the various Award categories, we issued an invitation to a panel numbering more than 750 people drawn from across the blues spectrum in the UK to submit their nominations in 12 of the 20 award categories. The response to this invitation has, frankly, been pitiful and of such a disappointingly low level that we are not in a position to put forward credible finalists in these categories.
By the closing date of the nomination period – 23.59 on the 14th January 2019 – less than 13% of those invited had submitted nominations!
In the regional categories, response rates ranged from a single nomination to a maximum just under 13%, whilst categories such as Under the Radar, Innovation and Lifetime Contribution were similarly abysmally supported with single figure numbers of nominations.
By contrast, the Club/Venue category, the only one open to the blues public at large, attracted over 200 nominations for some 24 different venues!
The UKBF is deeply saddened by having to take this action which we have only done after considerable discussion and thought, a considerable amount of work trying to find ways to avoid doing so and with very heavy hearts. We set out to create an Awards which had integrity and were open and honest and we believe that our action in cancelling this year’s Awards reflects those values.
It is difficult to put in words what message this sends out about the blues scene in the UK. Of course it means that the blues in the UK will not have a credible awards for 2019, a year in which we had hoped to build on the great success of the inaugural awards and the support that we thought had been engendered thereby.
Perhaps more significantly, it means that direct and indirect sponsorship to a value in excess of £16,000 raised through a great deal of hard work by members of the Federation’s Board and the generosity of the sponsors has been lost.
Whilst some of this money would have been used to cover the costs of the Awards event, a large proportion would have been used to provide much needed financial support to the Federation’s other activities including providing funding to support the UK’s representative at the International and European Blues Challenges and various other initiatives including those supporting and encouraging young and emerging artists.
In this respect we would like to thank most sincerely all those who agreed to provide sponsorship for the Awards:
FORM Fit Out, Blues in Britain, the Lancashire Blues Archive, Digital Blues, Blues in the South, The Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival, Blues Matters!, John Cee Stannard, the New Crawdaddy Blues Club. EarlyBlues.com, Raven & Blues, Colourblind Blues Show, Bluefunk Club, Poynton, Lesley & Terry Marshall, The Meeting Room, Elland, Jason Elliott & Paddy Maguire, Big House Blues Bar, Darwen, Red Pepper Promotions, Edinburgh Blues Club, Mid Wales R&B Club, Blues at Woodlands and Upton Blues Festival.
The support and generosity of these individuals and organisations is greatly appreciated.
Looking forward, we plan to have a UKBlues Awards in place for 2020 but with a significantly different nomination process which we hope will be supported to a far greater extent than has been the case in 2019.
Full details here: www.ukbluesawards.com