Halesowen deprives festival of grant aid

First published in News

THE first Black Country Festival will go-ahead without any funding from Halesowen after both council-led forums rejected bids for up to £5,000.

Dudley Arts Council had hoped to attract between £20,000 and £25,000 to fund a week of community celebrations, centred around Black Country Day on July 14.

But chairman Keith Horsfall said the £12,000 to £14,000 it had secured from several of the borough’s 10 forums would enable the festival to go-ahead.

He said: “It is disappointing as we could always use more, but it will be fine, we will cut our cloth accordingly.”

The Halesowen forums both deferred the grant applications until the new financial year, but as their meetings will not be until July, it will be too late to benefit this year’s festival.

Councillors were reluctant to approve grants without more details of what the money was to be spent on, but Mr Horsfall said the arts council is not organising events itself, rather supporting others to run them.

It is acting as a catalyst and hopes to support a wide range of organisations, pubs and clubs to stage events by providing equipment such as bunting, PA systems and gazebos, project management and an information website.

The idea for a festival, to be celebrated across the four boroughs, only emerged in January and Mr Horsfall hopes to put in more detailed bids earlier for next year’s.

He said: “If we see this year’s as a pilot, see what happens and we can develop it from there.”

So far in Halesowen, a weekend real ale and music festival is planned at The Grove football ground from July 11 to 13 and the arts council hopes to give “added value” to the annual Victorian Day in the town centre on Saturday July 19.

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