Belfast Telegraph

'Too successful' festival scrapped

One of the country's top summer festivals has been scrapped this year as a victim of its own success, organisers have said.

The Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures has been running for 10 years in the south Dublin suburb but came in 568,800 euro over budget last year.

Maintaining top acts and boosting security to tackle anti-social behaviour were blamed for the massive spending overrun, forcing organisers to cancel the popular weekend event. Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown Cathaoirleach Lettie McCarthy said the festival could not continue as it was.

"That's what was said over and over at the (post 2010 festival) briefing session, that really they had created a monster in some ways, albeit a very successful monster, but that if it continues to grow as it's growing we're not really going to be able to cope with it and deal with it."

Ms McCarthy said the festival had become a victim of its own success. The annual event has attracted up to 250,000 revellers and a range of home-grown and international folk, traditional, tribal, digital and experimental acts.

Its eclectic programme showcased concerts and club nights, fairs and markets, performances, street events and workshops to reflect more than 60 different nationalities estimated to be living in the council area. The budget for last year's event was 768,000 euro, but 1.34 million euro ended up being spent.

A council spokeswoman said: "The bulk of this overrun was associated with rising production, health and safety and security costs, which arose as a consequence of issues associated with the 2009 festival when the attendees peaked at 250,000. Approx 50% of this cost overrun was financed from savings achieved elsewhere in council expenditure on recreation and amenity in 2010. Provision has been made in the 2011 budget to meet the balance of the cost overrun."

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council established a review group last September which found changes were necessary to the structure, financing and content of the event if it was to continue. It is believed councillors were told of the plans to cancel this year's event at the council's budget meeting last Wednesday.

Planning will begin shortly on what is expected to be a scaled down event for 2012. This year's festival will be replaced with a smaller series of public events, with a budget of 400,000 euro, including a 10km road race, a model railway expo, a French festival to celebrate the Solitare du Figaro Ocean Race and the Dublin Bay Taste and Music Festival. Ms McCarthy said there should also be some event to celebrate diversity in the county.

A council spokesman said: "The reality is that over the next 12 months, a lot of hard work will have to go into implementing the detailed recommendations of the review group, which will involve taking a step back from holding the event in 2011, recruiting specialist personnel, and taking the time to prepare a more robust and sustainable model for 2012 - one that we can continue well into the future."

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