Food Festival Evaluation for 2013 -14

04 Mar

For those of you that have been asking me what’s happening about this report, well it’s only taken four emails to the press office for me to ascertain that this report will be uploaded to the WG website by the end of April. There are no prizes offered by Welsh Country magazine for the first person to find this evaluation report!

I’ve asked if food festival organisers have been sent their individual reports, that is assuming that they’ll get one, but the same official answer applies, it will be available to everyone at the same time, so they will not see their report until the end of April. So for those festivals running early you are again penalised by wag, not only are you unsure if you will get your funding, but you are not able to amend or improve your festival according to last year’s evaluation. Having said that, like me, you might not be impressed with CLES/Wavehill doing the evaluation basically by phone and reading the paperwork organisers have completed.

However this evaluation will not necessarily be wasted as wag will be using it along with the outcome of the consultation on the Food and Drink Action Plan and feedback from the recent Food Festivals Seminar.  

For those of you that have asked about the seminar, I’ve had no details of what went on that I can publish. But guys you know if I’d had anything through I’d have shared it with you, because that’s what I like to do!

I’m not sure how long I will keep on saying this, but from this side, which is the outside for sure, this is box ticking by wag at its very best, or rather worst. But apart from box ticking, however I try, I cannot see how much use these festival evaluations are worth. As I see it they are about as much use as wag food’s festival criteria, or to use the old adage, as much use as a chocolate teapot…………………………….

The food festival budget is being chopped and has been so for some years and as budgets keep tightening I am sure this will be par for the course. In 2008 budget according to my figures was £376,786.99 and in 2013 was £211,164.54. But my concern is that this money is spent wisely, food festivals are given practical help from a department they feel is backing them, not taking them for granted. Wag doesn’t issue criteria that they are unable to ensure are carried out. Under last year’s criteria, festivals were supposed to issue press releases but if I received ten in total that would be it. So what use is wag’s criteria other than ticking boxes for their European funding? Some festival websites didn’t even have a list of producers attending, so how can that work? Producers pay their hard earned cash often well up front and in my opinion it should be mandatory that they are the focus and priority at all festivals. Not having them listed on their official festival website is not only sloppy, but totally unfair and fails another of wag’s marketing criteria, let alone failing our producers.

Of course Wales has some brilliant festivals that improve each year, which is how it should be. Wag should be in the driving seat ensuring it happens not just being content with completed paperwork so you can tick your boxes. Welsh food and drink, is the best but is failed by a department that is not learning from its mistakes.

  1. Producer

    March 4, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Same old, same old
    Nothing changes in the way wag operate the food department.
    I get that civil servants are clueless about running a business. I get that civil servants are out of touch with reality. I get that civil servants cannot understand the stress of working for yourself why should they know when they’ve never done it? But it’s their job, to learn, to grasp what life is like for us producing food. If learning this is too difficult for them, then why not get advisors who do understand?
    I cannot grasp how paying for another evaluation of food festivals help us or the organisers. The Miller one didn’t help us, in fact if we took as much money as Miller said I wouldn’t need to do as many festivals last year. As Kath says time and time again, it’s all for wag having to tick boxes.
    Wag can grab money for Europe for this job, but why not then give it to someone who can make food festivals work better the following year? Does that not make sense?
    It’s obvious to me that if wag could read and understand welshfoodbites they’d find their job half down for them. These guys know and get what’s happening, wag just need take lessons from them.

  2. JJ

    March 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Going around in circles and getting the same old fob-offs.
    Obviously we don’t need to know what went on at the festival seminar we are only the ones who pay for trade stands and sometimes some marketing. Confess I’ve never asked organisers what their marketing plans are before I pay but guess I should. Although I do think when they send their application forms out that plan for marketing and advertising should come out at the same time. I’ve never given it much thought before so thanks for giving me some ammunition or maybe just a wake-up call.

  3. Foodie

    March 6, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    In the past I have run some large international projects. The evaluation of these projects was needed within 3 weeks of milestones. This included costings, receipts, risk analysis, critical path and outcomes. As the projects were EU money, it was checked at every stage, questions asked and evaluations given. Many many jobs depended on it, and the money received on the basis of the reports.
    Waiting until the next milestone was reached before evaluation was not feasible, jobs would have been lost. So why is this company allowed such a long time to come up with the results of this evaluation? Were there financial penalties for not hitting deadlines?

    There is absolutely no point in an evaluation unless it changes the way things are done or proves that everything is being done perfectly, and we all know that is not the case! From WAG point of view, it appears that lets not use this very expensive evaluation to help the Festivals in any way, lets just tick a box and all go home with our packed wallets.
    What planet are these guys on?

  4. Jay

    March 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I cannot see how this farce of a situation will change
    despite the efforts of this site and the many comment left for all sorts of topics, the wag food department continue to ignore us.
    Festivals and farmers markets have both been a cause for concern and fork to fork is a prime example of wag throwing money at a scheme which has had little good feedback and not help us at all.
    If civil servants were using the own money this would never happen in a million years.
    It’s totally irresponsible behaviour. Some people should be accountable and I think heads should roll
    but they wont we just get more versions of this waste of money

  5. Jed

    March 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    For goodness sake wag wake up to what’s happening in the food world.
    These evaluations haven’t worked and will never work but from ticking your endless boxes.
    This site is a good way to find out about festivals and the reports shown are sensible, fair and helpful.
    But then not all festivals are covered and I get why. But you’ll learn more from here than trying to read Miller’s evaluation report which seemed to pluck figures out of the air. It made no sense to us and didn’t help us either. So if these reports don’t help us producers and I can’t see how it helps organisers either, it’s just wag going through the motions of box ticking. So what’s the point?
    Kath change this please?

  6. Benji7???

    March 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    How? is my reply to your comment.
    How do you expect me to change anything that wag does? I’m not on their pay roll working for them and sure don’t have their ear!
    Me and the WCM team have spent over nine years trying to do just that, but when wag are not talking to me and certainly not listening to me, I’m afraid food issue seem to be a lost cause.
    I understand how cross producers are about wag food wasting money when you can’t see any benefit apart from the boxes being ticked.
    I understand too how annoyed some organisers are as well, especially those running early, but I’ve been complaining about this for what seems like for ever. But as I say, if wag can’t listen, can’t understand and don’t wish to talk to me and the team, it only leaves the Assembly Members to use for help. But I don’t see that really working either although one or two are listening, well making the right noises so far!!!

    Of course I have opinions on festivals and markets but much of this is from your feedback on both of these areas. I can’t see anything improving until wag change their attitude – but safest not to hold your breathe on that one!!!

  7. food producer

    March 12, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Give up on this Kath, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
    Wag aren’t listening. If they cared one jot about festivals they’d have sorted this out many years back.

  8. Cup Cake

    March 13, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Evaluate, evaluate and carry on evaluating but what does it mean in practical terms? Isn’t it as Kath says wag ticking their boxes so they can apply for more money from Europe?
    I’m no politician but running a business it’s heart-breaking that so much of this money goes sorting out pieces of paper but then many of the festivals I do I’m going down in my takings and stand prices keep going up.
    I’ve been on this site since it started as I’m with best of welsh and Kath is repeating the same probs.
    It’s boring for her but shows wag aint improving or changing its ways. A business couldn’t keep going with its head stuck in the sand as this dept. is allowed to do.
    Kath talked about the new broom and she had high hopes for him but do we have to wait much longer for something positive to happen? Or will nothing change?

  9. Buz

    March 14, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    If festivals are important to Wales, as Minister Davies says, then why isn’t more help given to these organisers? Festivals have no idea when they’ll be told if they are being funded and by how much. How can they work like that? It’s not right and means us producers are waiting, not knowing for sure which festivals are going ahead and which have given up.
    There’s no way I’d ever consider running a festival, in my experience wag doesn’t care.
    Wish things would change but I can’t see it, I just can’t.

  10. Mr Angry

    March 20, 2014 at 10:40 am

    There’s no hope that the food department will improve, they’re civil servants spending tax payers or European money. No clue as to why it doesn’t ring bells with any of them that there should be value for this money.
    What’s more the same old companies get more funding and those at the bottom of the heap get nothing at all.
    The system, such as it is, doesn’t work, but civil servants aren’t programmed to re-think, re-look at things, which is why Kath is wasting her time trying to change anything in food. Her common sense is not understood, more’s the pity.
    Spend money evaluating, tick your government and European boxes and the food festival farce will remain.
    I’m furious that this is allowed to go on and we cannot alter anything.

  11. Producer

    March 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    The comments left are all saying the same things but still wag can’t grasp this nettle. Nothing changes apart from wag, the experts at ticking boxes.
    I don’t get how these evaluations help anyone, it’s just wag’s ticked boxes.

    These evaluations aren’t there to help organisers or producers and that should never be the case, surely those two lots are the most important things to achieve.

    You had high hopes Kath of the new team, not that we know whose is still there or much of what they do, but you’ve backed a loser, as there’s no hope with this team it’s much of the same from our side.

  12. trader

    April 14, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Same old, same old
    if only this silly situation would change. Kath says she’d never be an organiser and nor would I, it’s just not worth the stress.
    I don’t get why wag can’t get an easy system in place that everyone can understand, not just wag. One that makes sense, whilst giving us good value for money so festivals can improve.
    Just read that a rogue copy of last year’s evaluation report is circulating, but I’ve not seen it.
    Come on guys share it pass it around.
    Shows that someone in Wavehill or in wag food have spies on the inside, what fun. That wouldn’t happen if all employees were loyal