New leadership and ambition at Bath Festivals instill confidence in council to give one-off grant to support the charity’s ambition. 

Bath Festivals, the largest provider of diverse arts in the city, is proud and delighted to have been offered financial support by way of a one-off grant of £75,000 from newly elected Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Councillors in B&NES cabinet voted last night (July 10) to approve a £75,000 one-off grant to Bath Festivals to help the arts charity sustain its diverse cultural programme for the future.

The funding comes with conditions from Bath & North East Somerset Council to further develop a programme of events that attract wider and more diverse audiences as well as taking action on the council’s Plastic Free pledge and its declaration of a Climate Emergency.  It will also mean a Bath and North East Somerset councillor will be added to the Bath Festivals board and includes a review of staffing levels to minimise costs.

Bath Festivals chief executive Ian Stockley, appointed in April 2017 said: “Working to engage the wider community we launched the combined arts festival in 2017 and the finale weekend on the Rec in 2018, while dramatically reducing our reliance on public funding. The support of Bath & North East Somerset Council at this stage of the transition to a community arts festival for the city is hugely encouraging and a validation of our plan for 2020-22, where we will increase the pace of change on the back of the work completed in the first 3 years of the transition. Growing further our collaboration and partnerships with local organisations is key to the plan and we are thrilled that the new administration recognizes the huge contribution that the arts bring to our great city and the surrounding community

Councillor Dine Romero, Bath & North East Somerset Council leader, said: “This one-off grant will allow Bath Festivals to unlock further funding to ensure its longer-term future so it can continue contributing to the local economy and to the vibrancy of our area. It is also welcome that Bath Festivals, as part of the conditions attached to the funding, will support the council in taking action on our Plastic Free pledge and on the council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency. In addition, we look forward to playing a role in future programmes that attract wider and more diverse audiences.”

Bath Festivals currently runs:

  • The Bath Festival, a combined music and literature festival in May offering more than 100 events.
  • The Bath Festival Finale Weekend of music on the Rec, featuring acts such as Robert Plant, Clean Bandit, Paloma Faith and Van Morrison.
  • Bath Children’s Literature Festival, Europe’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival, which over its 12-year history has entertained audiences more than a quarter of a million people of all ages.
  • A Creative Learning programme which provides a year-round outreach events across Bath and North East Somerset, enriching the lives of thousands of children and young people each year.

The roots of Bath Festivals go back more than 70 years in the city to the days of the original Bath International Music Festival. Over the ensuing decades the festival has evolved, reflecting the changes in society and how people respond to the arts. In recent years the focus of the May festival has been on a combined celebration of music and literature and valuable relationships have been forged. Benefits to the community include:

  • Bath Festivals showcases some of the city’s most iconic and historic venues, allowing audiences to hear internationally acclaimed musicians in settings unique to the city of Bath.
  • Audiences to Bath Festivals events can enjoy wide and diverse experiences here on their doorsteps, whether it be learning how to solve a cryptic crossword, discussing the state of British education, or watching clips from ground-breaking wildlife series while hearing from the director.
  • Visitors to Bath during the festival in May were welcomed by a city-wide poster campaign and window displays. The festival worked in partnership with SouthGate and Bath Business Improvement District to engage and involve shops, hotels and other city centre businesses. Free decals for shop windows were supplied and a best dressed window dressing competition was actively supported by a couple of dozen business, with plans to increase that number by 2020’s festival.
  • Party in the City. This is an annual event organised by the festival, which sees dozens of music acts perform at venues and on outdoor stages without charging fees. Thousands of visitors to Party in the City spend money in restaurants and bars and enjoy an evening of free, live entertainment.
  • Over the years the festival has built up an army of loyal volunteers who steward events and ensure that audiences have a good experience. Without these volunteers the festival would not take place.
  • Bath Festivals has been able to increasingly reach out to younger generations. This has been done with support from Bath Spa University, whose students have been able to participate on the performance, production and events management elements of the festival as a support for their degree curriculum. Generation Zero is a drama and writing project which arose from a three-year project Young Producers, in conjunction with local charity Mentoring Plus, involving young people from half a dozen schools in devising and realising their own creative pieces. For Party in the City a professional choreographer and composer worked with primary school children from Twerton and Roundway, alongside adults from Action for Hearing Loss charity, to produce a unique piece of street performance.
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