Financial pressures mount as Tramlines grant dries up

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

Organisers of Sheffield’s Tramlines music festival are preparing for this summer’s event without a grant from the council for the first time.

They are planning performances on Devonshire Green and across the city for the weekend of July 25 to 27 - the sixth time the festival has been staged.

Music fans paid for tickets for the first time last year as the main sponsors pulled out and direct council support was reduced by about half to £42,000.

Now there will be no grant from the local authority, although its officers will continue to work with Tramlines organisers and waive the rent for Devonshire Green, which, it is estimated, works out at support ‘in kind’ of £20,000.

The drying up of the grant is another casualty of the council’s cutbacks.

Last week organisers of Fright Night, the biggest Hallowe’en celebration in the UK, said they were ‘resting’ the event in 2014 amid a series of financial uncertainties.

Tickets for last year’s Tramlines cost £6 a day, £12 to £15 for the weekend. It lost £40,000 after attracting 95,000 people over the three days and achieving three-quarters of the sales needed to break even.

Now organisers will have to decide whether to increase the price this year - and to showcase bigger names to pull the crowds.

Festival director Sarah Nulty, said: “We always said that we want to rely on the council less and less as the festival grew. We have continued to work closely with the council, and were fully aware that funding would decrease year on year.

“We are grateful for the continued support we get from the council - both on the run-up to the festival, as well as over the festival weekend itself. There will undoubtedly be changes to this year’s event as the festival continues to grow and evolve, but we think that these will be for the better and enhance the experience for our festival goers.

“We’ve listened to our audience and are working hard to improve Tramlines every year making it THE inner city music festival.”

*Opposition Liberal Democrats said this week that Fright Night was “great for the city”, generating income and a safe Hallowe’en environment, and it was “a great shame” that it was being threatened by “police bureaucracy”.

Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright should “stick to his word” not to charge for policing the event, say Lib Dems.

But Mr Wright denied backtracking. He said: “Fright Night along with all other events will be treated equally in line with force policy on charging for policing special events. Whilst I support community events wherever possible in this age of austerity difficult decisions must be made on the best use of public funds for policing.”