Festivals facing the axe

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Showdown talks are looming after a top music promoter had his grant slashed by almost two-thirds leaving his events season hanging in the balance.

Steve Middlesbrough called for an emergency meeting with Morecambe Town Council in a last-ditch attempt to save his six popular summer music festivals.

This came after Mr Middlesbrough asked the town council to reconsider plans to cut his funding at a meeting on Thursday night.

Instead, they reduced his grant from £30,000 in 2012 to just over £11,000 for 2013.

Unless more cash can be found, most of Mr Middlesbrough’s events could be cancelled.

He estimates his six festivals - Morecambe Live, Country Kickback, Motown Magic, Morecambe Jazz, BluesWater and Beach Bash - pumped up to £330,000 into Morecambe’s economy this year, 10 times more than they cost.

“All I want is for my festivals to be judged on merit,” said Mr Middlesbrough, a music promoter in Morecambe for over 30 years.

“I don’t feel they have been.”

Next year’s festivals budget has been cut by £25,000, hitting other events in the pocket too.

The Tutti Frutti 1950s festival was granted £2,500, £700 less than organisers asked for.

“I’m disappointed,” said Sue Boswell from Tutti Frutti.

“Our committee doesn’t feel like the council is behind the festival.

“I don’t think they have played fair this year.”

Councillor June Ashworth, head of the council’s festivals committee, said: “Some organisers will undoubtedly be disappointed.

“With a budget of £55,000 and applications for £131,000 the committee had difficult decisions to make.

“We were pleased...to bring forward unspent monies from previous years to boost the festival programme this year in celebration of the Diamond

Jubilee and Olympic Games. 

“Unfortunately we do not have that money available for next year.”

The council put £15,350 towards the 2013 Seaside Festival, to be jointly organised with Lancaster City Council.

This year’s event, featuring the Red Arrows, drew an estimated 20,000 people to Morecambe over a weekend in September.

Councillor Evelyn Archer said the festival should only be awarded £10,000 so more money could be given to other events, but she was outvoted.

Other events given handouts included the North Lancs Soul Festival (£3,250), the Nice ‘n’ Sleazy punk festival (£3,000), the Bare Festival (£1,000) and the Kite festival (£2,500).

A new event called the Shine Festival, a live music gathering to be held on the site of the former Dome, was given £5,000.