Cromer’s Folk on Pier promoter having “long, hard think” about whether to walk away next year following grant slash

PUBLISHED: 09:39 04 February 2013 | UPDATED: 09:39 04 February 2013

Fairport Convention, stars of this year's Folk on the Pier. Left to right: Gerry Conway, Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie. Photo: BEN NICHOLSON

Fairport Convention, stars of this year's Folk on the Pier. Left to right: Gerry Conway, Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie. Photo: BEN NICHOLSON

Photo credit: Ben Nicholson

The promoter of Cromer’s successful Folk on the Pier festival says he will have to think “long and hard” about whether to make this May’s event the last, following a drastic cut in funding.

Scott Butler said he was very disappointed that North Norfolk District Council planned to halve its festival grant to £3,000 from April 1, and stop it entirely from April 1 next year.

The festival, which will celebrate its 15th year from May 10-12, attracted hundreds to the resort, creating an important early start to the season.

“Before Folk on the Pier Cromer was pretty well empty. Now for instance it is nigh-on impossible to find accommodation on the second weekend of May, and it would be a pity to see the place go back to the way things were in 1998,” he said.

Although the reduction was not enough to kill off the festival, Mr Butler said as a matter of principle NNDC should continue to make a continuing contribution - financial or in kind.

Last year’s festival, including fringe events around town, had cost over £45,000 and Mr Butler said £,6000 of that sum - the equivalent of NNDC’s current grant - had been ploughed straight back into Cromer to pay for performers’ and crew accommodation.

He aimed to raise the bar every year and this year’s event, starring folk-rock legends Fairport Convention, was the most expensive to date.

Mr Butler said he had personally contributed to costs for many years and stood little chance of recouping his losses: “a situation that is making me think long and hard as to whether to make the 15th anniversary the last one and walk away from it. It would have a certain irony as it was Fairport Convention who inspired the event and they would then be the last act to play it.”

One option could be to change the festival into a not-for-profit organisation, or charity, which would make it easier to apply for grants.

But Mr Butler said they would have to “hit the ground running” with such a scheme as he always part-organised the next Folk on the Pier a year ahead of time.

Many festival-goers this May would be interested in booking for next year before leaving Cromer so he needed to have a line-up to attract them.

NNDC leader Tom FitzPatrick said various events received start-up grants. The idea was that they became self-sufficient. Organisers could apply to the Big Society Fund to plug the gap. He added: “Things like the Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival don’t receive any money from us. But we are not withdrawing the money in one go. We want to give Folk on the Pier the chance to adjust.”

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