'Future of Nottingham St Patrick's Day Festival under threat,' say organisers

'Future of Nottingham St Patrick's Day Festival under threat,' say organisers

THE future of one of Britain’s longest standing St Patrick’s Day Festivals is under threat due to a lack of funding and volunteers.

Nottingham’s St Patrick’s Day Festival, which is celebrating its 17th anniversary, was planned this year on a reduced budget of £25,000.

The committee received £5,000 in funds from the Irish Government through the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) grants, and another £5,000 from Nottingham City Council, towards its festival on Thursday, March 17.

The remaining sum came from the committee’s savings, which have now run out.

Last year’s celebrations cost £33,000, a sum that organisers fear will be difficult to raise before the 2017 festivities.

Around £1,220 has been collected in donations from the community so far, while a spokeswoman for Nottingham City Council said that there was no guarantee of funding for next year’s event.

Paul Curtis, one of the organisers of Nottingham’s St Patrick’s Day Festival, told The Irish Post that there is a real concern that its legacy is in jeopardy unless the community rallies together.

“There’s definitely a potential that next year’s festival won’t go ahead,” he said. “We start planning in April for the following year so we’ll see where we are then.

“Through sponsorship and community donations we’ve save a lot of money over the years, but now we’re falling short.

“We’re grateful for the council’s help over the years, but now we’re dependent on the generosity of our own community to come forward and provide funds and more importantly volunteers.”

With £8,000 less funding this year, organisers have changed Nottingham’s Grand Parade from the Forest Recreation Ground to a smaller scale community procession starting from Thurland Street.

As a result, only a limited number of people are allowed to walk in the procession, and they must register their interest beforehand.

But Mr Curtis insists that there are a number of other events for festivalgoers to enjoy.

The day will begin with a Mass of Celebration at Our Lady and St Patrick’s Church in the Meadows, followed by a day of Irish music, song and dance.

The Irish Prison Service Pipe band will headline the parade, GAA fans can have their photos taken with the Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy Cups, and a range of Easter Rising centenary seminars will be held.

Across Britain, other St Patrick’s Day Festivals have also been threatened by funding cuts.

In January, The Irish Post reported that while Birmingham’s St Patrick’s Festival and Parade is facing its first year without substantial funding from Birmingham City Council.

Birmingham’s cuts form part of a move to slash £113 million from the council’s 2015/16 budget, with a further £250 million of budget cuts to be made over the next four years.

The council axed the annual £20,000 grant given to the St Patrick’s Festival committee, which equates to around 30 per cent of the £70,000 needed to run the event, which kicked off on March 4.

The Irish Centre in Digbeth raised £8,000, and further funds from lottery and arts council grants secured £10,000 and £15,000, respectively.

But Anne Tigue, Chair of the St Patrick’s Festival committee, urged the Irish community to get involved.

St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Glasgow face a tougher challenge, as the city is solely reliant on sponsors and the community, as the council declines to make a financial contribution.

Chair of Glasgow’s St Patrick’s Festival, Padraig O’Neill told The Irish Post that the city had long been the centre of controversy in regards to council funding, and he would like to see that change.

Correction: 10/3/16 12.59am It was previously stated that organisers changed Nottingham’s City Centre Procession to a smaller Grand Parade. This has been corrected.