Latest News On Government Support For Welsh Food Festivals

01 Feb

I thought you might be interested to read this Welsh Government Press Release, which was received yesterday and I’ve  copied from as I’m sure it will be of interest not only to our Best Of  Welsh & Borders producers, but all local food lovers. 

Welsh food festivals are being invited to apply for grant funding from the Welsh Government.

 Each year food festivals in Wales contribute millions of pounds to the economy by attracting visitors from across Wales and beyond and provide an important platform for producers looking to increase sales in an ever more competitive marketplace.

Around 40-50 festivals receive support each year from the Food Festival Grant programme, which is funded by the Welsh Government. In 2010/11 some 49 festivals received grant support.

 Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries said, “Each year food festivals in Wales contribute millions of pounds to the economy and are a key element in promoting Wales’ burgeoning food culture and giving visitors a ‘sense of place’.

“Large or small, they have their own distinct character, but with one common thread – to bring to the public’s attention the fantastic array of food and drink produced in Wales.”

 The findings of a two-year evaluation of food festivals supported by the Welsh Government, and conducted by Miller Research, show they attracted approximately 650,000 consumers with an average spend per head by festival visitors of £20.

This equates to £7m in direct spend with an estimated additional spend in host communities of £42 million over two years and implies additional sales directly relating to festivals in the region of almost £50million over a two-year period.

Approximately 500 producers – many of them Wales the True Taste Food & Drink Award winners – attended the supported festivals in 2010/11, reporting an average of 32% of their annual sales made as a result of attending festivals.

Applications will be reviewed by a team consisting of representatives from the Welsh Government’s Food and Market Development Division and Visit Wales, with each application considered on individual merit and in light of available funding. Following consultation with the Food and Farming Panel the outcomes will be issued the week commencing March 19th.

This year there have been a number of major changes to the food festivals funding criteria, which has been tightened due to budgetary constraints and an increased number of applicants. Applicants must now submit a business plan and accounts as part of the application process, and all events supported must have food activity as its core. The closing date for applications is February 17th, 2012. The appraisal process will also look a number of other elements, including: the promotion of Welsh food culture, the benefit of the festival to the local community, the local economic benefit, and how the event meets to aims and objectives of the Food Strategy for Wales).

I’m sure that regular readers will not be surprised that I disagree with quite a lot that has been stated in this press release. But at least I’m pleased to have received it! I was just about to send a Freedom Of Information question through to find out when I’m likely to be told which festivals are running and who has taken the lion’s share of yet another reduced food festival budget this year.

I have sent quite a number of questions through to the Welsh Government (Food) Press Office and had notification that my questions have been passed on and will be answered shortly. Bearing in mind that I’m now completing pages for our March/April issue, I’m unsure whether I shall receive a response quickly enough to raise the issues I have with this PR in Welsh Country magazine.

But rest assured I’ll update on welshfoodbites in due course.



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  1. trader

    February 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I’ve read this through twice and I have lots of questions, so best I ring Kath and discuss with her.
    Last year we had less money for food festivals and as a result there were less festivals funded. Despite how much they are suposed to put into the economy and employed. But cardiff, and abergavenny still got lots of money and I think the other large one is conwy reading more of this site about festivals. But will the Big Three still get more funding whilst others are penalised or not even funded….because there is ‘no money left’?
    I have no confidence in who is making the decisions on festivals. It’s WAG food and now visit wales, with the farming committee rubber stamping it. I bet there is not a micro producer on that committee on the grounds that we don’t matter. How fair is that wag? Though when have you cared about being fair to producers?
    Wag can state that food is the core activity, but that didn’t happen last year as Kath as reported in detail on so many festivals. Why are wag penalising Smallholder, which is always a brilliant event, but then put money into Llandysul, which was a disaster? None of this makes sense to me at all.
    Why does wag allow festivals to pay top chefs lots of money and then allow some events not to get the basics right? They cannot state that once they hand the money over that’s it, because they can attach strings to funding, which they often do. Top chefs – top money and it’s a waste. I heard one top chef was paid £1k for a couple of hours, can’t verify that for sure but that is disgraceful to waste OUR money like that. Kath says use local chefs and use produce from the festival, but is she the only person who talks sense about food? I think so and it’s sad wag can’t or wont listen to her.
    I despair of this food festivals farce.

  2. cup cake

    February 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Gosh this makes depressing reading, even when it’s from wag
    I’ve just read the other comment that has gone up about this press release and I do agree with all said there.
    It was highlighted on here a few times that 3 festivals got much of the festival budget. But some time after you did this, I’m convinced that wag then raised the BIG 3 to some sort of ‘international’ status. How silly and stupid to do that when the BIG 3, of all the Welsh festivals, should be able to get sponsorship in.
    I thought wag said that festivals must be self-sustaining, but have they now changed their mind after pressure from the BIG 3? Well that’s how it looks to me and many other food producers I talk too. Forget the smaller festivals, don’t give them any support to grow, let them sink or swim – wag that’s so typical of you.
    Abergavenny was dreadful last year, the worst year ever. I think they have got too big for their boots. So many long standing stands got moved into poorer sites, which was rude and unfair, whilst those from outside Wales usually got good sites. Look after your own people? Not in Wales, we don’t bother wag do we?

  3. puzzled

    February 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    what did wag’s Mac festival organisers meeting achieve?
    Some producers got an invite, but know Kath and Ian didn’t, but no idea why. The producers weren’t allowed to talk and put any views forward, so what was the point inviting producers and then gag them?
    I heard that wag have since phoned around to get feedback, but this is just to tick another Europe box isn’t it? So yet another waste of time and our money.
    Can wag do anything and make sense to us producers? No!
    Now we get a done deal, a wag decision. Food as the core, so why do visit wales then warrant an opinion of which festival gets funding? Becasue we have three ‘international’ festivals and the rest can carry on or not wag doesn’t care.
    Welsh Country cares and because they do and fight our corner wag make their life diffcult and they get no support at all although they are the obvious medai wag should be working with.
    It’s no wonder I’m puzzled, confused and have no time for what wag is doing. Welsh Country should be paid to work with all wag supported festivals but this has never happened and it makes no logical sense.
    This stupid situation should be sorted and our festivals pushed like anything.

  4. admin

    February 2, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Thanks for posting your comment.
    I can’t respond to every comment, there’s just not enough time, but as this has upset so many producers I think I should clarify a few points.
    I’m not certain what the meeting at Mac achieved, as I’m not sure what its objective was. Ian and I weren’t invited or told it was happening by Wag, but that is of course up to them. Their meeting, their guest list, fair enough. Wag are the ones in charge after all. But of course I have had lots of feedback and lots of complaints too. Wag have phoned around for feedabck but why that couldn’t have been done on the day is again down to Wag. Of course with European money, Wag have boxes to tick and do give them credit for doing that so well.

    I have as much idea as you a how Wag will dish out their money from their reduced budget. But I’ll be surprised and very pleased if the Big 3 have to stand on their own feet, as examples of Wag wanting festivals to be self-supporting…..unless Wag have changed that policy now.
    Welsh Country magazine is not pubished to make life difficult for Wag (Food), in fact, editorial,at the moment, is quite the opposite, bearing in mind I try not to mention Wag Food!

    welshfoodbites is however a different matter. This is my blog and my views. Well actually, it’s the views of food producers and those interested in Welsh food. Those are the people Ian and I talk to and talk to us. Why shouldn’t they have a platform to air what they think?

    Thanks so much for your support for both welshfoodbites and Welsh Country, that actually makes it all worthwhile.
    Wag’s views on Welsh Country magazine is of course at matter for them.

    Our team contacts all food festivals and hope they will advertise with us. They usually cite lack of money for not advertising with us, but they don’t, again that’s their decidion to make. But you know how we work, we support those that work with us, if they don’t wish to for whatever reason, we’ll do nothing to help them.

  5. fudge

    February 3, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Fudge the truth is how I read this.
    Who knows what went on at Mac but organisers and the few producers that wasted their time and money accepting wag’s invitation, but not allowed to ask questions – so why invite them? Just to tick another box?
    The Big 3 will I’m sure be pandered to once more by wag. The big will get even bigger thanks to huge wag funding.
    What a poor show.

  6. admin

    February 3, 2012 at 10:50 am

    More than happy to chat and get your views, that’s always helpful to us.
    Wag don’t seem to think we have anything to offer and of course they are entitled to their opinion. They have to money and they have the power, how they use both is entirely their choice. Your concern is welcome but please don’t worry about me, I’ll cope!!!!!!!!!
    We don’t have to agree with wag though and that is really what this site continues to show.
    How we get wag to communicate with producers seems to be a lost cause and not one Im proud of, but then neither should wag be.
    Let’s bring visit wales in, I’m sure the Big 3 will appreciate their help.
    Thanks for your commnent and do ring, we can then despair together…………………………………………

  7. jam man

    February 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I think the survey they aare talking about was done with a couple of laptops and the prize was a free meal, but can you really take so seriously a survey done on this basis? I’m afraid I can’t.
    I wish every punter spent anything like £20.00 a time with me, but maybe this means each person who filled in the survey spent £20.00 altogether at the festival. ‘Approximately’ well here we go, ABOUT 500 producers –many of them Wales the True Taste Food & Drink Award winners – well here we go yet again, TT attended wag festivals in 2010/11, but to then say reporting an average of 32% of their annual sales made as a result of attending doesn’t make sense to me. 32% at festivals, well they are covering themselves with ‘approx’, so that’s ok for wag speak.
    Why not bring everyone and the kitchen sink in to decide which festival gets any funding, but ignore any small producers, they can’t have any input in anything at all.
    Shall we run a book as to which festival gets what?
    Let’s start with the favoured 3 shall we? Wag’s policy has to be the big shall get bigger because we are feeding them so much money every year, soon they’ll be obese!
    I’m sure Kath once said that the wag’s intention was that festivals should not need funding, they’d to look for sponsorship, but I’m sure over the last three years or so that the big three have got the same large sums as they always have, so not sure how that was supposed to pan out.
    Abergavenny didn’t work last year and I know many Welsh traders that got moved or just weren’t allowed into the event. Their priority should be welsh traders have the best spots and the others can go onto the outer edges. Otherwise do as Kath has suggested years ago, price the stands differently, those on the outskirts get theirs cheaper, but give us some options of where we go.
    You’d think after all this time festival and markets would not be such a hot topic of conversation, but this is Wales and they still are.
    £800k for market, farm shops and boxes and all these 3 areas have not benefitted as much as FBA have. Some markets are failing fast and all wag does is tick yet another blinking box for Europe. Pity wag you are not forced to ask the traders how worthy this fork2fork scheme was, but it did create employment and large salaries at FBA, so that was useful for some.

  8. Bad show

    February 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

    This is a disgrace
    Wag have always pandered to the large festivals and smaller ones get little money or support, help or advice which so many of them really need.
    Wag are experts at ticking boxes to get money from Europe and Wales just pushes it down our big Welsh food drain and achieve very litte for producers.
    I know a lot of people that have very large brown Wag food noses. Wag favour them. If wag can’t give them a TT award, then they’ll give them lots of work and pay them very well. Some special Wag favourites get both – but as I say, these are real wag favourites.
    I feel so sorry for small festivals and myself too really as these are the ones I can afford to attend. If small fests have no council helping, then this will be the kiss of death for many of them. What happened to Peter James’ festival in Powys? That was such a friendly one and got us gently into the food festival season.
    But don’t worry, Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff, you can get bigger and bigger thanks to more and more wag funding and no doubt you can carry on treating Welsh producers like 2nd class people. Self-supporting, I have heard a wag food official say that, but why did he and what did it mean? Self-supportin gmeans that they try for sponsorship so why has that now changed? If budgets get cut and cut, why is it that the big ones still got the bulk of the money over the last 3 year funding programme?
    I really don’t understand. But it seems I’m only a mini producer and I mean very little to wag food.

  9. Pasty

    February 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    If anyone can confuse producers, there is no-one better than wag food to do that job. They should get a medal for it.
    Last year we were told food must be the core activity, which was a total joke. Llandysul was even worse than ususal last year for craft and kids projects. They did next to nothing to get punters in to us, it was just like a village fete. Llandysul were wrong in applying for funding, but the biggest culprit is wag for giving it them – yet again – food core activity wag you are unbelieveable about not seeing things through when you make the rules.
    Kath has gone on and on about food festivals and how many of them fail, and she’s been doing this for years and years but wag ignore her. Then wag pay Miller people and they are saying much of what she’s been saying. But now how is this going to follow through and change for this year?
    Bringing visitwales in, well this is just to justify giving the Big3 their bulk of the cash – clever way to get out of that one wag. Let’s help the Big3 get even bigger, but don’t make them look after Welsh traders. You can just quote europe and the Welsh traders, as at Abergavenny, can be virtually pushed out into the next county.
    Then this goes to a committee and is there a micro trader on this committee? No, just Simon Wright, and who is he a True Taste winner, a wag man, well that’s not helpful to us is it?

  10. Support

    February 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Yes lots of support for those festivals that are big and wag love, but hard luck to the others.
    It’s not support it’s strangulation of our festivals. Wag have thrown lots of european money at markets, farm shops and box schemes but it has been another total and disgraceful waste. How many markets are thriving? No many at all.
    That money should have made massive improvements and establish sound bases, but FBA have just been lucky enough to be in the right place, in favour with the right people, but and achieved little for us trying to earn a living.
    Kath start giving the markets as much space as you do to the festivals – another job I know but…………… would make interesting reading and even some in wag can read.

  11. admin

    February 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I do understand where you are coming from and if you’re main income is from markets and festivals, I can see why you are so anxious about the future of them.
    fork2fork project is one I’m still too angry to talk about. A can of worms………..well much more than a can, I fear. £800k should have made a tremendous difference to those 3 sectors but it is not what I’m being told, in fact quite the opposite. Even Riverside, Cardiff, which was a very good market and has the city to draw from, is suffering badly.
    When WCM first started, I did at least a page coverage for farmers’ markets and tried to work with quite a few of them. But it was to our cost and my time and we didn’t get any advertising support from them, which was annoying. Then I backed off with FBA and their £800k windfall.
    So please don’t expect me to visit many farmers’ markets this year, there just isn’t the time to do that job properly. If I did, I will have the same problem, who is going to take any notice? I’ve been pushed to do this blog to give foodies and producers a voice, which is an extra job that I don’t need, but do enjoy, but as wag wont listen to me otherwise, welshfoodbites will stay very active.
    But a little good news on markets, we now have a few markets working with us and they will get our support both in WCM and on

  12. Tess

    February 13, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Let’s all be pleased that wag is still putting money into some festivals. Minister after minister say how important food festivals are, but still the budgets get cut. Then we have Wag dishing money out, but not to those that will make best use of it.
    Guess guys we should be grateful, and we could, if we knew that they’d make best use of the money they have got. But we know that THE BIG THREE will carry on being spoilt, which makes wag’s statement that food festivals should be looking to be self-supporting, another of their poor taste joke.
    In the last trance of money, Kath has told us these three were getting more, not less. Which festivals will have a stronger chance of getting sponsorship, well obviously these three and they do get sponsors in but still apply for the lion’s share of this dwindling budget and wag concur.
    But after Kath brings this to our notice, wag then change their rules again and promote these three to ‘international’ status. Another poor taste joke. Now wag bring in visitwales to help them rubber stamp their funding list. Followed by a committee that only wag could put together, full of it’s own great and good brown nosed people, who are there to pay lip service to what wag now decree is the best way forward. Forget the micro and small producers – wag have never have had an interest in us.
    But without us wag wont have many food festivals left unless they keep supporting english stands with our budget. Of course it’s european money, but the French would not give us the best sites at a French food festival and move their French trader guys to the edges of the festival site. But Wales must play strictly by the rule book. ook

  13. wag's in charge

    February 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Whatever we producers think, whatever we think is wrong, wag will do whatever they like. One reason is because Wag don’t want to talk to us, and sure they wouldn’t listen, if they could be bothered to ask what we need.
    When Kath points things out that are wrong, they try and ignore her. But she’s the one who does talk and listen to us. Then when issue do get hot, like the Big 3, all Wag does is change their rules so they can carry on doing just as they wish.
    We are always the losers and will be so until we have an offical way of talking to Wag and making them listen.