ORGANISERS of a lucrative Northumberland music festival have been given a reprieve from council charges which threatened the event.
Bosses at the Alnwick International Music Festival, which pulls hundreds of thousands of pounds into the local economy, faced being charged for help with the event by Northumberland County Council.
As part of budget cuts, the authority was considering imposing up to £6,000 of charges for manpower and road closures – services which had previously been provided free by its predecessor Alnwick District Council as a gesture of support for the festival and as part of event sponsorship.
Event bosses have since been told that they will not be charged by the council this year.
However, the organisers have been warned they could face the proposed bill from next year.
Committee spokesman, for the 36th annual festival, John Moodie, last night said: “We are pleased that they have decided not to charge this year.
“It is a temporary reprieve but we are going to have to do some hard thinking and fundraising next year.
“We are definitely going to have to pay, which will cause some serious problems for us.”
Mr Moodie acknowledged in the current difficult financial climate, the council has more pressing priorities than supporting entertainment events.
He said: “If it is a case of giving money to the music festival or filling in a pothole, the priority has got to be the pothole.”
Meanwhile, the final line up for the 2011 festival, which takes place from Saturday, July 30, to Saturday, August 6, has been announced.
Groups from Estonia, France, India, Poland, Romania, Russia and Togo will appear alongside a host of local artists.
In all, 280 performers will take part in the festival.
As ever, there will be daytime shows in the town’s market place and evening concerts in Alnwick Playhouse, from the Tuesday to the Saturday.
There will also be workshops for children led by the acts, each day in the town hall. An independent survey conducted in recent years found that the event brings £750,000 into the local economy.
It was carried out by tourism information centre bosses who looked at the number of people staying at bed and breakfasts and hotels during festival week, and how much on average they spend in the area.
Mr Moodie said: “It does generate quite a bit of money for the local economy – it has to.”