The future of Exeter festivals under discussion

PUBLISHED: 09:00 09 November 2008 | UPDATED: 09:59 10 June 2010

THE future of Exeter's four major festivals will be discussed later this month by the cash-strapped city council.

THE future of Exeter's four major festivals will be discussed later this month by the cash-strapped city council.

The festivals, which are promoted directly or supported by the city council have attracted an audience of over 54,000 to ticketed and free events over the last year.

Exeter City Council this week revealed it had suffered a loss of £1 million because of the free bus pass scheme.

The performance of the Autumn Festival, Animated Exeter, Vibraphonic and Summer Festival are the subject of a report to the Council's scrutiny committee on November 13, which also sets out recommendations for their future development.

The report acknowledges the challenge of the current financial situation, rising costs of venues and performances and pressures on sponsorship. However sponsorship will remain an important and vital ingredient to enabling these events to be delivered as successfully as they have been to date.

Cllr. Stella Brock, lead councillor for economy and tourism said: "These festivals form a very important part of the city's cultural calendar and could not be put on without the loyal support of the business community, the venues, the promoters and their staff.

"They help promote Exeter in the region and nationally and greatly add to the entertainment and educational opportunities available to people who live and work here. I welcome the idea of working even more with others to develop the festivals even further as they are so important to the city."

The Autumn Festival, the city's community festival, has already been enhanced this year with the trial of a new partnership award scheme available to the city's venues to encourage them to work with a community group to develop special events for the festival.

This award will continue and complement the existing festival award scheme, providing financial assistance to potential performers to enable them to improve or develop an activity for the festival.

Animated Exeter, promoting enjoyment of animation and careers in the animation industry is likely to have to be organised in a different way from 2010, acknowledging the difficulties in raising funding and the opportunity to further develop the festival and secure funding if it is outside of the direct control of the council.

It is recommended that the delivery of Vibraphonic remains in the hands of Vibraphonic Festival Limited, the organisation specifically set up to operate the festival successfully in 2008.

A new way of delivering the Exeter Summer Festival is recommended which retains a strong classical programme and develops a partnership within the city's key venues to produce a core high quality programme of events featuring dance, rock, jazz and world music, comedy and theatre.

The aim is to make best use of the known expertise of the venue promoters whilst encouraging more challenging and innovative programming. It is also intended to re-establish a free large scale opening event and to research the possibility of running large ticketed events at available venues together with a commercial operator.

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