Important Reading Mencap Announcement

You can read the full statement below…

Reading Mencap step back from partnership with Are You Listening?

After ten fantastic years as Are You Listening? Festival’s charity partner, Reading Mencap is stepping back from aligning with the festival this year. In the post-pandemic years, the fundraising landscape has changed considerably; this, coupled with increased costs and stretched resources means that they have had to take the difficult decision not to be involved this year.

In terms of the festival itself, the grassroots live sector has been dealing with existential challenges in the last few years. In the Music Venue Trust’s Annual Report 2023 it reported that the UK permanently lost 16% (125 venues) of its grassroots music venues. Many loved and established UK festivals are also not taking place in 2024 as they battle an average 30% increase in costs, coupled with decreased attendance.

The AYL? festival organisers Heavy Pop have worked entirely unpaid in the last 12 months to keep on delivering events like this to the local community and supporting the development of artists in the early stages of their career. Clearly, this is not a viable situation in the long-term. Whilst ticket sales for the 2024 event remain strong, we are currently reviewing all historical aspects of the festival for this year’s edition and to ensure Are You Listening? remains viable into 2025 and for years to come.

Although Reading Mencap are stepping back, nothing fundamentally changes for what Are You Listening? is about and we will always share their DNA – to bring together the local community to a friendly, safe, supportive and welcoming event; and to support grassroots music and give artists a platform.

To date, Reading Mencap has received £79,576 from activity around Are You Listening? Festival over the ten-year period and we encourage our festival audience to donate to the charity for their part in making the event what it is, and to help them get above £80,000!


Mandi Smith, Reading Mencap’s CEO, said, “All the funds raised from the festival during the last decade have been vital in helping us to improve quality of life for people with a learning disability in Reading. We are incredibly grateful to Heavy Pop and everyone who has supported us on this journey.”

The festival is looking for volunteers to support the event this year, please email volunteers@heavypop.co.uk for more information.

We will very shortly be announcing the next wave of artists joining our 2024 line up this May and we hope you can join us for our 11th festival edition!