SO Festival funding retained despite calls for cuts

Funding for cultural events such as Bicycle Ballet, pictured at last year's SO Festival, has been retained by East Lindsey District Council.
Funding for cultural events such as Bicycle Ballet, pictured at last year's SO Festival, has been retained by East Lindsey District Council.
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Funding for cultural events in East Lindsey, including this year’s SO Festival, has been safeguarded in recognition of its economic and social importance.

Coun Daniel Simpson’s proposed £50,000 reduction to East Lindsey District Council’s £360,000 events budget was rejected after a majority of councillors decided the investment was worth retaining.

He and several other independent councillors at last Wednesday’s meeting felt the current budget was too much given the financial pressures faced by the local authority and recommended more private investment be sought.

An independent report into last year’s SO Festival’s success revealed a ‘considerable reduction’ to its visitor numbers, which Coun Simpson believed demonstrated a need to ‘concentrate the mind’ by exploring other options.

Coun Edward Mossop, who seconded the motion, feared the council had been ‘swept away’ by the event’s publicity and felt a supported a stepped withdrawal of funding.

Skegness councillors Steve O’Dare, Dick Edginton and Neil Cooper each made impassioned appeals to retain the SO Festival’s funding, which they claimed had produced a ‘world of good’ for their town and the district as a whole.

Given the economic problems affecting the nation, they felt that investments to support businesses and tourism were needed now, more than ever.

Coun Adam Grist added: “It’s not just about culture, it’s about development and having a positive effect on the local economy.”

Having worked ‘extremely hard’ to expand the event across the district and develop its international reputation, many councillors feared a withdrawal at this stage would undo much of the council’s success.

ELDC’s leader Coun Doreen Stephenson said: “We are a council that is positive and innovative - there’s a growing recognition for what we do, this is a wonderful opportunity and we must progress with it.”