Party on as £1m allocated for local festivals

Dancing to The Stars of the Commitments on Stage in the City Hotel as part of last year's City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com

Dancing to The Stars of the Commitments on Stage in the City Hotel as part of last year's City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com

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Derry & Strabane Councillors have agreed to invest over £1m in festivals over the coming year.

A draft proposal for almost 30 major celebration events was endorsed by the Council’s Business & Culture Committee at its March meeting in Derry.

The annual  St. Patrick's Day Spring Carnival makes it's way through Derry last year. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 17.03.15

The annual St. Patrick's Day Spring Carnival makes it's way through Derry last year. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 17.03.15

The new draft programme of events for April 2016 to March 2017 comes just days before this year’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations are rolled out.

In a report brought before committee members, councillors were informed that a large part of the funding would go towards flagship festivals- £120,000 for the City of Derry Jazz Festival, which runs from April 28 this year, £210,000 for Halloween celebrations, £110,000 for the Christmas Switch On and subsequent Festive Time events, and £85,000 for St Patrick’s Day celebrations in 2017.

The council-run festival programme has been broken down into Tier One and Tier Two events.

The former also includes the Waterside and Strabane Half Marathons, each of which stand to get £12,000, while £10,000 has been allocated for Culture Night on September 16.

A section of the crowd from a previous Christmas Lights Switch On in Derry. �55,000 has been allocated for the November 2016 event, with a further �60,000 for the Christmas Festive Time festival. (PIc Inpresspics.com.)

A section of the crowd from a previous Christmas Lights Switch On in Derry. �55,000 has been allocated for the November 2016 event, with a further �60,000 for the Christmas Festive Time festival. (PIc Inpresspics.com.)

Tier 2 events will include the Walled City Marathon, which is to get £30,000 from the public purse, the Foyle Cup, which will get £23,000, the Ulster Rally (£35,000), and a Brian Friel Festival is to get £35,000.

The Gasyard, Amelia Earhart, Maiden City and Foyle Film Festivals will each be allocated £10,000.

In the Strabane area, funding has been allocated for a wide range of festivals including an Angling Fair in May, Summer Jamm in June, as well as a Wild Water Event in Netownstewart next winter and prior to that a Harvest Festival in Castlederg.

Stephen Gillespie, the Council’s Strategic Director, told the Committee that almost £90,000 has been set aside to help fund community-run festivals across the city and district - up £20,000 on last year.

Mr Gillespie said: “Derry City & Strabane District Council successfully manage and deliver a varied programme of festivals and events throughout the Council area supported through the rates process.

“These festivals, delivered in both urban and rural contexts, have demonstrated their potential to deliver economic, social and cultural outcomes by promoting the area as a place to live in, visit and do business in.

“Council is further committed to the development of externally delivered festivals and events which contribute to the wider cultural landscape within the Council area and seek to support these festivals through ongoing funding streams.

“In developing this programme, officers sought an increase of £30,000 investment to the Tier 1 events reflected by an £18,000 to develop the rural based events and £12,000 to develop the urban based events.

“The programme outlines a schedule of activity which provides each unique area with its own trademark event without competing within the Council area.”

SDLP Councillor John Boyle welcomed the funding, stating: “This is a very significant investment for this city and district. This is an area of expansion and one we have seen to be successful over quite a significant number of years, not least since the City of Culture. Of course this is a very natural progression as part of that; as the legacy of that.”

He added that local people have supported festivals “in their many thousands” over the years, with opportunities for the local business community.