| 14.2°C Belfast

Call for rethink over festival funding as Feile to go virtual

Close

Boyzone perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Boyzone perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Boyzone perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Belfast City Council has been urged to review its funding of festivals in the wake of disruption caused by the coronanvirus pandemic.

The west Belfast Feile an Phobail announced this week that it would be holding a 'virtual' event this year due to restrictions around public gatherings.

The council will now be asked whether it should divert funds to other areas in need of support, given that festivals are either not happening, or taking place online at a greatly reduced level.

Alliance councillor Michael Long said a review was needed.

"Given the financial difficulty councils are finding themselves in due to Covid-19, it's important to look at every way possible of tightening belts," he said.

"News of Feile An Phobail going virtual broke just after our last group meeting otherwise I'm sure it's something that would have been raised.

Close

Alliance councillor Michael Long

Alliance councillor Michael Long

Alliance councillor Michael Long

"Obviously, with festivals not happening in the same way, or at all, the money is not going to be needed for staffing events or headline acts."

Mr Long said he will now be asking council to consider the matter.

According to the Feile's latest accounts, for the 2018/19 year, it received funding of £183,491 from the city council. It also received Arts Council funding of £116,599. Other key funders included the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (£59,000) and the Executive Office (£50,971).

Feile an Phobail announced that this August's 32nd annual festival will take the form of a 'Virtual' Feile.

Feile director Kevin Gamble said: "We are working with our funders and partners to ensure we put on the best programme possible in the current climate.

"Feile is fully supportive of the public safety measures currently in place, and of all frontline workers. We want to give everyone a Feile to enjoy and be part of, while also ensuring we keep people safe."

Belfast City Council said it is working with organisers of festivals to consider how to prioritise its investment and support.

"We have invited festivals to provide us with further information on their plans which we will consider on an individual basis," a spokesperson said.

"As part of the implementation of Council's Cultural Strategy, Council will continue to work with the sector and other partners to develop a programme of support."

Belfast Telegraph