THE future of the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Birmingham hangs in the balance after its headline sponsor announced they were withdrawing their funding from the event.
On January 22 Kiely Bros Ltd announced that it could no longer support the annual event financially, stating: “We feel that it is time for others to step up to the plate in terms of financial support.”
The Birmingham Irish firm, which specialises in surface treatments and waste management, became the headline sponsors of the parade in 2017, stepping in to help after Birmingham City Council withdrew the annual £20,000 grant it traditionally gave to the event.
Kiely Bros continued their sponsorship in 2018 and 2019, but now claim they are no longer in a position to provide funding for the popular event.
The news puts the 2020 event in jeopardy - with the St Patrick’s Parade Committee now under pressure to find another sponsor in order for the parade to go ahead in March.
Peter Connolly, Chair of St Patrick’s Parade Board, said: “It would be a great loss if the parade did not happen, generations have worked tirelessly over the years to ensure the community gets an event which celebrates Birmingham and Irish culture.”
He added: “I have fond memories of attending the parade as a child and I hope that I will be able to attend with my own children in the future.
“The parade is an opportunity for everyone to experience Irish culture, music and heritage, and to share in the achievements of those that have gone before us.”
Organised entirely by volunteers in Birmingham’s Irish community, the St Patrick’s Parade is funded by commercial and charitable organisations and donations.
The Festival costs over £90,000 to run – with that figure covering the costs of 37 staffed road closures, an on-site field hospital, counter terrorism measures, security, toilets, Digbeth-wide street cleaning before and after the event, bins and refuse removal, miles of barriers and licensing.
There are additional costs attached to the artist and band fees for the entire Festival, staging and sound equipment, hiring a Carnival Artist to visit schools in Birmingham, float hire, street decorations and pedestrian barriers.
If the St Patrick’s team can raise the necessary funds this year, the St Patrick’s Parade is due to take place on Sunday, March 15, with celebrations being centred around the theme of the Irish Quarter.
Members of the St Patrick’s Parade Committee Board are now working hard to secure a replacement headline sponsor - anyone interested should contact [email protected].