2018 Maritime Festival facing potential funding shortfall

The Quay along the River Foyle during the Maritime Festival  in 2016. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 10.07.16
The Quay along the River Foyle during the Maritime Festival in 2016. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 10.07.16

Derry & Strabane Council could face a shortfall in funding for the Maritime Festival following the suspension of a Tourism Northern Ireland events programme.

The Council had been planning to apply to Tourism NI’s international event fund for £190,000 for what is now one of the biggest festivals anywhere in Ireland.

The call for funding applications was due to open this month but this has been suspended as the fund is currently being evaluated.

A report brought before the Council’s Business & Culture Committee on Tuesday regarding preparations for the festival stated that it is hoped that the funding process will open in November once this process is complete, and that the application can then be submitted. The Committee was cautioned however that Tourism NI have warned that their budgets are going to be cut and that less money will be available for event funds.

The Council is committing over £580,000 towards the festival, and is hoping to secure another £320,000 from Tourism NI and other funding sources.

The Maritime Festival will run from July 14 to 22, 2018, and which will see the city again become a host port for the Clipper Festival. The Committee authorised officers to go ahead with tenders for tall ships and boats, event management, bar provision and performance water sports.

In 2016 the festival attracted an audience of 163,576 visitors bringing in £3.5 million.

Sinn Fein Colr. Caoimhe McKnight welcomed the updated information and said the festival brought a lot of economic benefit and tourism, as well as enjoyment for local people.

“I would like to urge the private sector to become more involved with sponsorship of the event,” she said.

SDLP Councillor John Boyle said that like Colr. McKnight, his party would be keen to see the partnership work with Clipper continuing, adding that the Council were clear the Maritime Festival was something they wished to continue. Colr. Boyle also raised the Tourism NI funding issue and the potential for the potential shortfall having to be addressed by Council.

A Council officer said they were working very hard to ensure there is not a budget shortfall..

It emerged at the meeting that a number of private promoters have approached the Council looking to stage concerts at Ebrington Square during the Maritime Festival.

Council officers are now working with Council’s Procurement Officer to establish a process of selection with regards to these events.

The main staging ground for the 2018 festival will again be the riverfront spanning from Fort George to the Peace Bridge.

Programme elements will include a range of water based activities, visiting ships and boats, festival village and bar, live music performances, race arrivals, Clipper Race boat tours and motor trips, Continentaland Walled City Markets, Food Trails, animation, street theatre, Finale event, Parade of Sail and Race Departure.

An extensive local, national and international marketing campaign is to be carried out by the Council and Visit Derry as well as campaigns in conjunction with Tourism Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland.