Festival organisers battle on, despite spending cuts

fayreBS''Pictured are Living History Camp and Battle Re-anactment members on display at Sheffield Fayre in Norfolk Park
fayreBS''Pictured are Living History Camp and Battle Re-anactment members on display at Sheffield Fayre in Norfolk Park

THREE big events will go ahead in Sheffield this week, despite cuts in council grants.

Organisers of Fright Night, Tramlines and the Sheffield Fayre and are being forced to look for new and different ways of compensating for less money from the authority.

But, despite the difficulties, they are all committed to the events this year, and keeping them free.

Fright Night, the Hallowe’en celebration that has grown to attract crowds of more than 40,000, will see its council grant cut from £25,750 to £20,000.

This year’s budget was about £60,000, spread between the council, the University of Sheffield, Travel South Yorkshire, the Arts Council, sponsorship, fairground ride operators and food traders.

“We recognise that the council is in a difficult position with the cuts it is having to make across the board,” said Scott Barton, of organisers Yellow Bus Events.

“We had long discussions with the council towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year and agreed a settlement.”

The way forward was to further develop partnerships, such as with the Arts Council, which gave £9,500 last year, with core funding from the council, he said.

“We are determined to keep the scale and quality of the event. It is definitely going ahead this year. We are already talking to the Arts Council. They were really pleased last year.”

Organisers of the Tramlines free music festival will be hit by a reduction in the overall city centre events budget.

Festival director Sarah Nulty said: “We’ve always said that we want to rely on the council less and less as the festival grows. That being said, the funding we receive, together with sponsorship and revenue, is key to the festival’s success.

“We just need to make this money work harder and look at other ways of generating cash.

“We are grateful for the continued support we get from the council and are committed to doing everything we can to keep Tramlines both independent, and free for all.”

More than 175,000 people were estimated to have attended last year’s festival in venues in the city centre and across the city, and the next is lined up for July 20 to 22.

Some changes are being planned to the Sheffield Fayre, which is held in Norfolk Heritage Park on August Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday and attracts crowds of 40,000 over the two days.

“We are going to try to get outside funding and sponsorship, which won’t be easy,” said fayre secretary Erica Fidment. “But it is going to go ahead and hopefully it will be a really good show again.”

Organisers will receive £21,000 less from the council. Funds also come from stallholders at the event.

One of the main attractions is the re-enactment of historical battles. “We are still hoping to have a re-enactment, which is very popular, but we may have to cut it back a little bit,” said Erica.

There is particular enthusiasm this year because of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The fayre started in the park at the same time as the Golden Jubillee.

“We are hoping to replan the event to make cutbacks but with other things that will make it equally exciting,” added Erica.

The council says it is making “modest reductions” in grants to some festivals and events. There will still be council support both in the form of money and officer help, and it is expected that the major events programme “should be largely unaffected”.