Funding axe spells trouble for major local events

MAJOR local events including the Clogher Valley Show and the Ulster Rally could be facing an uncertain future after a government department scrapped its funding.

Another high profile event which is sponsored by the NITB (Northern Ireland Tourist Board) events fund is the Happy Days International Beckett Festival which received £90,000 in public funding last year, however it is believed this will be ring-fenced for three years.

In 2012, the Clogher Valley received a total of £10,000 while the International Fermanagh Seaplane Festival received £35,000 in 2011.

The Ulster Rally, which draws thousands of people to the county every year, will be at risk of losing over £15,000 as a result of the tourism funding slash.


It is feared that vulnerable arts and tourism events will be targeted as part of Stormont’s budgetary cuts leaving community-led projects in jeopardy particularly those whose core funding is from the public purse.

The NITB events fund is controlled by the DETI (Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment).

The Fermanagh Herald made attempts to contact the DETI minister Arlene Foster, however she did not respond to our requests.

However, speaking to a BBC radio show earlier this week, Mrs Foster said she was disappointed and frustrated at the events funding cut.

“We have put a lot of money into trying to build up Northern Ireland and raising its profile as the home of events and we have been very successful at that,” she said.

“But Sinn Fein can’t sign up to the budget reality we find ourselves in. I will continue to try and find a solution to this.

“The events fund is critical for a lot  of events as it’s the core funding for some and they will have to look at whether they can proceed.


“I think they will look at this as they plan next year’s events while I will try to look at how we can raise this money later in the year.”

However, a Sinn Fein MLA hit out at the lack of tourism funding Fermanagh receives.

Phil Flanagan called for the county to be given a ‘signature status’ to help promote Fermanagh and attract further funding to the area.

“Tourism in Fermanagh has not been given adequate promotion in recent years. If it was given a signature status this would be used as ways to identify areas for development similar to the Giant’s Causeway.

“People that are organising events are from the community and voluntary sector.

The nature of this NITB fund was very competitive and leaves it difficult for smaller festivals in rural areas to get financial support.

“I don’t think Fermanagh is benefiting to the extent it should. Belfast gets plenty of funding and it really has created a high buzz in the city.

To provide funding for smaller events is something that needs to continue which will help them remain in existence.

“If we are going to attract visitors we need to have something going on. People who have these great ideas for events need support to help get them off the ground.”

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