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Food Festival Funding

14 Jan

Into the new year and surprise, surprise, I’m once again chasing wag food, via the press office as that ‘s how I have to make my enquiries, to allow the press office to then chase wag food. I  asked when we’ll be told what is happening to food festival funding this year.

It’s never been a priority for wag food to let organisers know where they stand on funding. The genuine worry for organisers is will they be getting funding or not, and then what criteria are wag food going to apply. Regular readers will know that I don’t believe wag food are capable of ensuring their criteria are carried through before payments are made to festivals. Last year festivals were supposed to issue press releases, which rarely happened, enhanced by the fact that some festivals didn’t even have a website, whilst others just didn’t bother to keep it updated. Some festivals didn’t even have a list of food producers attending. In my view it was another wag food shambles. Our food festivals should surely have the priority of supporting our food producers, but if organisers are not sending out basic press releases, don’t have a website or can’t keep it updated then it imply isn’t working for them.

As in previous years, Ian and I attended about 20 festivals last year. So it’s reasonable to say that we do have a good idea of what was happening with festivals and we do know as media are not able to ensure that their criteria are enforced. Despite paying two companies, CLES and Wavehill, to under take an evaluation of last year’s food festivals at a cost of £27,800 plus vat, I fail to see how they can do a decent job, let alone a good one, when they are reliant on trawling through organisers paperwork and telephone interviews. For us on the outside looking at food festivals as a whole, that amount of money would have paid for at least another 3 festivals. However the crunch is that is correct, but it wouldn’t have ticked another crucial box for wag food. One Best Of Welsh & Borders producer did tell me that they were 8-10 people from Wavehill, at Hay on Wye festival, but, although I’ve asked wag food, I’ve had no response as to whether that’s correct or not. I also asked wag food why, when the tender did not state attending festivals was required, that Wavehill could afford to send so many people to one festival. Assuming of course Wavehill was paying their people to attend! Was the wag tender so overpriced that Wavehill decided they could afford to attend Hay? Well I’m sure you can guess that this question did not get a reply either and if you are asking why not, so am I!

I’m not sure if wag food just can’t grasp that organisers need to know if funding is available, or perhaps they just aren’t bothered about putting additional stress and pressure on organisers, which is seriously heightened for those running early in the year. But year after year our organisers are put in this position and it does make you wonder why people volunteer for this thankless task. I stick by my view that wag food don’t deserve these people ‘working’ for them when they are treated so badly.

Posted 12Sep13

Is There To Be Food Festival Funding Next Year?

A food producer called in on Monday, asking if we’ve been told whether Welsh food festivals were being funded next year. Well of course I hadn’t been told anything. If I’d heard officially, meaning from wag food, I would have first emailed it around our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and then I’d have posted it on welshfoodbites.co.uk

So I contacted the wag press office as I’ve been instructed to do and asked them. Their reply is as follows:

Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Any such rumours are completely untrue as no decision has yet been taken on funding for food festivals in 2014/15.”

So in true journalistic fashion, reading between the lines, I understand their response to mean, wag food have not decided officially yet, but it could well be true.

If producers need more uncertainty in their lives they can usually rely on wag food to provide it.

Monitoring & Evaluation Of Food Festivals 2013-14

Posted 080813

As you are all more than well aware, I’m not at all happy with a further evaluation of food festivals. Something to do with the fact that we are still waiting for Miller Research’s offering on last year’s festivals. I’ve been chasing for this report, but apparently it will be available of wag’s website at the end of this month, although initially I was told June.

Obviously we are not privy as to when wag received Miller’s words of wisdom. However if this report was going to be of assistance to wag this year to decide their latest criteria, you’d have hoped wag would have been pondering over it early this year, wouldn’t you? If that didn’t happen, just what is the point of spending with Miller, so I understand £43k?

Anyway still concerned about this, I asked questions under the Freedom Of Information Act on 2nd July. Questions were as follows:

When was the 2013 – 2014 Monitoring and Evaluation of Food Festivals Supported by the Welsh Government put out for tender?

  1. Which companies submitted tender applications?
  2. When was the tender awarded?
  3. What is the completion date for this tender?
  4. What is the Welsh Government paying the two successful companies for completing this tender?
  5. When will the review be published and available to the press and public?
  6. The 2013-2014 Monitoring & Evaluation of Food Festivals Supported by the Welsh Government, was this put out to open tender or from framework?

Although I’ve not had an acknowledgement, today I received a hard copy response. Puzzling why and emailed FOI warrants a hard copy response dated simply August 2013, but there we are – wag rules. Anyway their words of wisdom are shown in full:

1. The tender was issued on 30th June 2013.

2. Two companies submitted tenders for the work, Miller Research and CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies).

3. The tender was awarded on the 19th June.

4. The successful company is expected to submit a final report by 7th March 2014.

5. CLES were the appointed company, Wavehill are approved contractors carrying out some of the work in partnership with CLES. The tender value was £27,800+vat.

6. It isn’t possible to give an accurate date, however we would anticipate that the report would be released Spring 2014 for publication.

7. The tender was issued to companies on the Welsh Government Research and Evaluation Framework Lot 4 – Programme /Project Evaluation.   

So this response still raises further concerns. I’m wondering how wag issued this tender on 30th June but then awarded this same tender on 19th June. How can this be? We all know that wag ‘works’ slowly, but to award a tender before it’s actually been issued is certainly beyond them isn’t it?

The other cause for concern is the cost of these tenders and the wastage in my view of public money. Last year for evaluating about the same number of festivals, Miller got £43k. I’ve not got their report so cannot comment on its contents, but at least they did attend the festivals, so in theory, should have had a good idea of what was going on. This year, CLES with Wavehill are doing this work for £27,800, but the price difference is because these two companies are apparently doing their evaluation by phone along with feedback forms, plus organisers input. Well I know of far too many festivals that are ignoring wag’s stated criteria, but if some organisers are good at ticking wag’s precious boxes, how is this evaluation going to be worth anything? To me it seems silly and we need a system that will work and give us better, more profitable food festivals next year.

Now before any of you ask me why I keep bothering to try and get wag food to see sense, it’s quite simple. For many of our Best of Welsh & Border producers, festival and markets are a vital selling–tool for them, but neither of these sectors is really working well. The wag food festival budget was cut again this year, so it is even more vital that this budget gives value-for money, yet it doesn’t.

If only wag food could learn some lessons……….              

 
 

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  1. producer

    January 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Nothing changes in wag food, it still operates on it’s low level. There’s no way you could run a business as this department is run.
    I feel sorry for all food festival organisers that are not being paid by their councils for doing this job.
    I cannot imagine how worried they must be as once again wag food tell them nothing at all.
    I agree that wag don’t deserve to have volunteers running food festivals.
    I see this is as scandalous but wag have no thought for anyone but themselves and keeping their jobs safe.

     
  2. trader

    January 14, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Organisers need to know what’s happening as so do we. How can we plan our year when we don’t know what is running well and how much our stands are going to be?
    I’m feeding stock in my fields but what is the market for them?
    Pity wag food can’t understand our industry and what it entails.
    They are clueless

     
  3. producer 3

    January 15, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    It’s the same every year.
    Wag food haven’t got the common sense to get a grip of this and work with organisers, instead of leaving them worrying.
    How you have the patience to keep chasing the government every year and fighting for organisers is remarkable but in effect pointless because nothing gets through to this government and this department. They are all so thick-skinned and basically untouchable, whilst the Minister carries on spinning his way out of crisis after crisis but it seems he couldn’t care less about the pressure he’s putting these people under.

     
  4. PRODUCER

    January 15, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Mr Minister ———- you just take your time about funding food festivals this year – as you have in past years.
    Your decision, however you come around to it, will not affect your livelihood. It’s not causing you lots of worries about your future and your business.
    You have really no idea of the problems we are facing, but it would help if you and your team cared.

     
  5. producer

    January 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    We’re wasting our time if we think that the minister and wag food will change their attitude. It is of no concern to them if organisers and producers have to wait months to find out about funding.
    They are totally thoughtless, but they can afford to be. We pay them all despite all this on-going funding farce.

     
  6. producer 2

    January 20, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Comment after comment after comment left by producers and others involved with Welsh food
    say the same thing they have no confidence in this wag food department
    But does it make any difference to wag food, not likely, they’d have to be interested in us to take notes of changes that are needed.
    So we get more of the same year after year.

     
  7. cheeseman 2

    January 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Well done Producer 2 just what I was going to say
    many of us are in agreement

     
  8. cup cake

    January 20, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    We can’t say that we have lost trust in wag because that went years ago under the last lot of people in control
    Kath was so hopeful that this new lot, with a new head of food would make a big difference but that has just not happened has it?
    Sorry Kath that your hopes have been dashed

     
  9. Organiser

    January 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Shame on you wag for letting us hang on once again worrying about festival funding. Year after year it’s the same and you’ve been told many times about this, but you ignore us stupid fools.
    My sorrow is for those running early in the year, because this stress they must be under is not worth it. All we are trying to do is help food producers and our communities and get some holidaymakers in as well.
    To reduce the stress, as a smaller festival we cannot get sponsorship, we try every year pushing our local businesses, pleading for their support. .
    Why we put ourselves through this, it’s just not worth it to be treated like this by wag.

     
  10. food lover

    January 21, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I am also in agreement with these comments. Also agree that it’s pointless because there’s no hope that wag will listen, they’ve no need to.

     
  11. foodie

    January 21, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I agree with all these comments that people have taken the time and trouble to leave
    It’s pointless though as wag will continue to ignore us as they always have done.
    No care or progress from them.

     
  12. organiser

    January 22, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I’m not sure if this team are brave or silly
    There’s no reason this should be happening and plenty of reasons why the Minister should tell the truth why he’s not instructed his minions to organise a conference last year and then this year.
    Can’t he dump the spin and tell us the truth for once?
    Is that too difficult for his department to do?
    Whoa, now it’s me being silly. As that would mean him talking to us, or at least to Kath and she can pass it on for him!!!

     
  13. An organiser 2

    January 22, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Travel to north Wales, not a chance, sorry.
    I admire you for doing it, but wag will now expect this each year. You’ve made another rod for our tired backs.
    Not a good move in my mind with these two points.

     
  14. Mr P

    January 22, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    I’m in agreement with Organiser 2
    sensible points and ones to be considered
    Driving north is ridiculous for many of us.

     
  15. Jay

    January 22, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I don’t get why organisers run festivals unless they are paid for it.
    It’s something I don’t understand when I learn how badly wag treat them.
    How can you plan anything when you don’t know if or by how much you are going to get funded.
    There’s lots of talk from politicians about how important Welsh food is to the economy but it’s hot air and as Kath calls it spin.
    We are lucky to have had so many festivals for so long but this so-called system stinks.
    Kath you are totally wasting your time
    wag will publish dates and funding, if there is any, when they get round to it because these civil servants are so busy and we have to wait for budgets, like they aren’t sorted now!!
    Carry on treating us a thick, we’re used to it

     
  16. producer too

    January 23, 2014 at 11:42 am

    As a food producer who does a lot of festivals this has been an eye opener for me. I didn’t appreciate how wag and the food department were wasting so many people’s time and making their life so difficult and stressful when they say food is important.
    It doesn’t make sense
    I’m shocked by what keeps going on and how wag don’t take hold of this and sort it once and for all.
    It’s an utter shambles.
    Our organisers deserve better treatment than this, and more so if they are volunteers.
    We are all being treated like mushrooms —
    I’m can’t plan my year, organise extra staff etc. because like other producers, we don’t know what festivals are running.
    But have not a care wag you lot will still get paid.

     
  17. trader

    January 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    This situation could have been eased somewhat if wag kept talking to the organisers and gave them updates
    I know Kath’s made no progress, despite her keep asking and asking what’s happening
    wag don’t deserve organisers
    in fact I’d rather there was another shake-up in this department as the supposed last one hasn’t seemed to improved at all. We’ve got more of the same rubbish.

     
  18. producer

    January 29, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    There is no doubt that wag do not deserve people running their food festivals. So many of them are volunteers and doing a job for their communities but are left in limbo whilst they wait for wag to make decisions on funding.
    How the minister can come up with he’s supporting Welsh food, when he treats people like this. I’m sadden and angry by this it goes on year after year.