Helensburgh Advertiser

Fund fear for festivals

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TWO of the Helensburg­h area’s biggest annual events could be set to see their funding from Argyll and Bute Council cut off entirely.

The Helensburg­h Festive Lighting Charitable Trust – organisers of the town’s Christmas lights display – and the Helensburg­h Winter Festival have both received financial help from the local authority’s Strategic Events and Festivals Fund in the past.

But the council has revealed that it’s considerin­g winding down the fund in a bid to save cash – to the point where it would be reduced to zero by 2027.

The proposal forms part of a list of ‘savings options’ to be considered by councillor­s as they prepare to set the authority’s budget for the coming year.

It suggests combining the events and festivals fund with two other sources of financial support – community grants and early years third sector grants.

But if the plan is approved by councillor­s the fund will be reduced from nearly £300,000 in 2024-25, before being cut to £197,000 in 202526 and £98,796 in 2026-27.

Both Helensburg­h events already receive financial and in-kind support from other sources besides Argyll and Bute Council.

Other projects to have received cash from the events and festivals fund in the past include the Cowal Highland Gathering, the Highlands and Islands Music and Dance Festival, the Mull Rally, and music festivals on Bute and Tiree.

Councillor­s on the authority’s powerful policy and resources committee will run the rule over the proposal – and the full list of savings options – today (Thursday) before setting the council’s budget on February 22.

A report on the savings options states: “Over a period of three years the level of funding will gradually reduce by 33 per cent each year until it is zero.

“It is suggested that £596,000 from the council’s priorities investment fund is utilised to maintain the fund in 2024/25 and the reduced budgets in years two and three allowing the full saving to be realised immediatel­y.

“A reduction in the strategic events and festivals fund does not support the delivery of any statutory services for the council, however there is a risk that the number of events and festivals, which contribute significan­tly to the culture, heritage and economy of Argyll and Bute, will diminish.”

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