Belfast Arts Festival gets one-off grant

It’s not a long term solution, just a one-off grant, but the efforts of Save the Befast Festival at Queens.. and others.. seem to have worked, for now. The NIO’s Arts Minister Maria Eagle MP has announced that Belfast Festival at Queen’s is to receive a one-off grant of £150,000 for the 2007 Festival.. which would just cover the expected loss from last yearFrom the Save The Belfast Festival press release

Last year’s Festival, with attendances in the region of 100,000 people, is expected to see a loss of £150,000.

And from the NIO Arts minister’s statement

The Minister said that she did not want to see the Festival end up in the same position next year with uncertainty surrounding its future. Therefore, she expected to see significant progress to ensure the sustainability of the Festival from 2008 onwards.

She continued: “This will require meaningful engagement from all partners, and must focus on producing a three year development plan that contains clearly defined targets and outcomes for the Festival. This will be a significant piece of work and should commence as soon as possible.

“In making this award of a one-off grant of £150,000 I trust that Queen’s University will reciprocate by maintaining the 2007 Festival and taking the lead with partners to secure the long-term future of this flagship Festival.”

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  • wild turkey

    Just curious but does anyone know where you can check what other arts festivals throughout Norn Ironland get by way of public grant from whatever source, ie NIO,OFMDFM,DCAL, Arts Council?

    What is totality of public grants rec’vd by Queens Festival for financial year 2006_07?

    Assuming that a marginal increase in ticket prices would not greatly reduce the overall number of attendees, the maths seems simple.

    Increase average ticket price by £1.50 times 100,000 attendees = additional £150,000

    Simpliste but also straightforward. Or is the level of public subsidies received by Queens festival in comparison to other festivals an example of welfare for the affluent and the rigours of the market economy for the not so affluent?

    Like I said, just curious.

  • Crataegus

    I think the Queen’s Festival has been on the slide since the time of Michael Barnes. Now it is well below power and has few must see acts. Also with peace it really has to try harder as there are other alternatives.

    There needs to be a rationalisation of festivals and community bashes in NI. The Cathedral Quarter Festival is on the rise and probably works on a shoe string. To me it looks like better value for money. Also why can festivals not be self financing? Why should I pay for someone’s theatre tickets. I could understand it if it was frequented by the poor and elderly but this is not the case.

  • Pete Baker


    Some other recent-ish announcements of funding of festivals

  • Sure why not toss 300 grand at ’em? Then Belfawst would be twice as cultured.

  • observer

    £150,000 , that could pay the water charge for over 2000 people this year

  • festival attendee

    Yes, Queen’s really needs this money. Struggling along with an operating budget of £200M+ and surplus last year of £11M and there are currently 40 odd staff earning more than 100k p.a.

    The festival has a dozen staff so I would agree that other festivals do great stuff with few staff and meagre budgets but it clearly helps if you have a vested interest to do your PR for free. The telegraph could easily afford 150k of sponsorship (which the festival really lacks and underperforms on). On the campaign they are quoting circa 5000 signed up (let us not assume that that includes a major portion of current festival patrons!) – so for that 5000 people maybe if they all bought another three £10 tickets each that would remove the 150k shortfall! Evidence is that the overwhelming majority of the populus will spend £30 on night out (pub, odyssey etc) but the festival can not find another few thousand who’d do that at Queen’s. This suggest there is not a audience for the programming or NI will not support the inflated ego of the festival.

    The real question is the inability of festival staff to secure support from major beneficiaries such as Belfast City and many local companies who do a good business around the event. Without that issue being addressed we’ll be here again next year.

  • Jimmy

    As a recent ex student I find it disgusting that Queen’s go ‘cap in hand’ looking for funds. When I was there it was first and foremost a money making syndicate. They even sent a letter to my friend costing 26p asking for an outstanding balance of 70p!!!
    Perhaps if the Vice Chancellor would consider giving up his Chauffer driven car, and all the little perks that heads of committees and board members recieve maybe there would be adequate funds for the festival.
    Theres a lot more needy causes in this city that need that kind of funding, A buisness syndicate like Queen’s just aint one of them.

  • confused

    I am opposed to civic support of the Arts.
    Festivals should stand on their own feet.
    I have held this view since Mozart died a pauper and feel we should not pay fifth rate artists to perform.
    If they can not earn a living let them starve.
    Next you will be asking the Church to be patrons.

  • Crataegus

    If we are trying to create growth in the arts and build this sector of the economy I can see ways to encourage such indigenous activity through the tax system. If a festival is part of a greater package to encourage tourists I could see justification for a bit of pump priming. However in its current context it is asking myself and many a lot poorer to subsidise someone’s theatre ticket and that is wrong.

    In the past I have organised concerts, run various forms of entertainment and none of it ran at a loss. I am not suggesting it is easy, but the problem with the creative arts is often attitude and lack of proper consideration for matters financial. There are events that need sponsorship, but to get that sponsorship they have to be packaged in a form that is attractive to potential sponsors. Basically a sponsor wants recognition and publicity. Also all printed material such as programmes should be revenue earners not liabilities etc. We do need to spend more on the creative arts, but I would prefer that money was spent on training and education.

    It would also be a lot easier to have a few large money spinners in a festival if there was a large stadium near the centre of Belfast, but that is another tale.