Colne music festival’s cash blow

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A Colne music festival committee will be left dipping into their reserve fund after being refused a grant from Pendle Council.

In his latest welcoming address to the Luther Greenwood Festival programme chairman Eric Beardsworth said that he is “sad and disappointed... that our financial assistance from Pendle Council has dried up”.

He added that if the festival loses £1,000 a year due to council cutbacks, then reserves will “vanish” in a few years. This, he said, will affect how the festival operates in the future and will probably result in cutbacks.

Mr Beardsworth said: “For many years the former Colne Council, and its successor Pendle Council, allowed the Luther Greenwood Festival free use of the Municipal Hall, now known as the Muni, on four or five dates during the year; two for music classes in November/December and two or three for the dance classes in June. No money changed hands and everyone seemed to be happy. The council was supporting our festival by providing a small number of staff, and the festival’s volunteers did all the rest.

“In recent years, this arrangement changed. Pendle Leisure Trust began to charge us around £1,000 for hire of the hall, and Pendle Council provided an annual grant which more or less covered the hire charge, so in effect we were breaking even. More recently the festival, along with many other voluntary groups, has been required to submit applications for grant aid, and we were grateful that this was forthcoming. This year, however, our application was refused, with no reason given.

“It costs more than £5,000 a year to stage the music, speech and drama and dance classes, and we work hard to raise around £4,000 income. The council grant helped us make up the £1,000 shortfall.”

It is not possible, says Mr Beardsworth, to “just go out and raise more money” - with a small group of dedicated volunteers, most of them older in age, running the organising committee.

He added: “Sponsored parachute jumps are a non-starter! It has become known that Nelson Ladies’ Choir and Pendle Youth Choir also had their grant applications turned down this year.”

Responding Dean Langton, head of central and regeneration services, said that Pendle Council’s Small Grants Fund reduced significantly from £40,000 in previous years to £20,000 in 2014/15.

He added: “These are difficult financial times and the council has had to make some tough decisions about how money is spent.

“In 2014/15, we received 50 applications for grants from a range of voluntary, community and not-for-profit organisations.

“The request for grants totalled £93,000 and with a budget of £20,000 the panel had a difficult job determining which organisations were successful.

“Whilst not successful in 2014/15, the council has supported the Colne Luther Greenwood Festival with grants for many years, including a £1,000 grant in 2013/14.”