Freedom Of Information Reference 8254

01 Apr

Under the Freedom Of Information Act I asked the following questions:

1).        As not all the 32 food festivals did not adhere to the Welsh Government’s criteria, please identify which festivals did not receive the amount the full amount of funding provisionally allocated by the Welsh Government.

2)         With 2013 being the first year the Welsh Government have implemented a ceiling of £10k in funding per festival, which festivals were able to access other government funding? Full details required.

I have now got their response:

1)           Three Food Festivals for the funding period 2013/14 did not adhere to the criteria set for Welsh Food and Drink Producers, as a result they were penalised, the original approved funding offer was reduced pro-rata to the number of Welsh Food and Drink Producers attending. Those affected were:

  • Abergavenny Food Festival  (Initial Wag Funding £10,000)
  • Mold Food Festival (Initial Wag Funding £9,000)
  • Abergavenny Christmas Food Festival (Initial Wag Funding £8,500)


2)         In 2013 the Major Events Unit; Economy, Science & Transport Department provided support towards specific elements outside of the Food Divisions remit to the following:

  • Pembrokeshire Fish Week (£21,000)
  • Gwledd Conwy Feast (£25,000)

I sent these questions through under FOI because for years I have been bombarded with complaints from our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers regarding food festivals. Far too many saying they cannot get in some food festivals and have no come back to the standard organisers explanation that, ‘sorry we are over subscribed’. As a journalist, wanting to look at both sides, I can appreciate that popular festivals where producers can actually make decent money are going to have a waiting list, that’s understandable. Plus quite a few festival organisers that advertise with us have given me their side too in no uncertain detail. It’s brilliant for them if they are over subscribed, it’s proof that they have done their job exceedingly well. It literally means that they can then pick and choose to give their visitors a food festival with plenty of variety. My complaint arises, and has done for years, when Welsh producers are either not accepted, or are after years of supporting a festival are simply thrown out whilst some of those festivals accept non-Welsh stands and then give them the better trading spots. Last year wag food changed it’s criteria saying that funded festivals must have 75% Welsh food stands, I challenged wag food asking how there were going to follow up on this, but have made little progress. I found if puzzling that criteria were issued but no clear pathway to ensure they were obeyed. So following Abergavenny, Ian and I sent a tradestand list through this saying that this festival didn’t match wag’s criteria. It took us hours to do this work and annoying it was never acknowledged. We understand that wag food then asked all festivals to send in their list of stands taken and state which were Welsh stands. So it appears our message got through to wag food as we work as their unofficial workers.

So I’ve followed this up with this FOI but have to say that I disagree with the response I’ve received and have gone back to them for more information. Abergavenny is the festival our Best Of Welsh & Border producers complain about the most and of course Abergavenny are victims of their own success, but they have been very well funded by wag food to achieve that growth. Festivals and markets give us so much additional work and it’s now reached the point that we are not sure where to go next. Thankfully some Assembly Members are being  supportive of what we are doing, they understand that this isn’t our paid-for job,  but value what we are doing for Welsh food.

My hope is that message will get through to wag food, because we simply cannot go on like this, we just can’t …….

There will be a follow-up post, be assured. When that will be who knows?


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  1. Polly

    April 1, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Another festival shambles
    money paid out for an evaluation but just what did they evaluate? Not the important stuff it seems.
    This would be amusing if this wasn’t a large part of our livelihood.
    We seem to go around in circles when some festivals are not doing their job correctly.
    wag food should have spotted this themselves well if they were on the ball they would have but they haven’t got on the pitch yet!

  2. foodie

    April 2, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Do wag need any more complaints before they get a better system for food festivals and one that puts producers first, instead of box ticking?
    It’s April and we’ve still no list of festivals that are funded.
    We’ve had quite a few emails from Welsh Country telling us which festivals are not running and details of new ones- guys you are great doing wag’s work for free!!! But nothing from wag food, which is no surprise to any of us. It’d be a shock if we did get anything news from wag, that and support. Guess they no longer have to pay outsiders to do any promotion work for food, so that’s a saving.
    I’m disgusted that you and the team have to do so much work to find out anything about festivals. It’s clear to us that wag’s system doesn’t work but they carry on in the same way. No changes, no improvements. How many of wag food have attended any food festivals, apart from Abergavenny?
    Wag food needs one big shake up and be told to put producers first for once.

  3. producer

    April 3, 2014 at 8:35 am

    You have been working for years on festivals and you and Ian visit quite a few of them. You highlight some on here and given a fair report of what’s gone on, what’s right and what’s wrong as you see it. I’ve used this site to give me some guidance when selecting festivals. Of course being a newbee I can’t get into some but love your reports.
    Bet it was your input that got the festivals limited to £10k but not sure why festivals can’t be supported better by wag apart from money. It’s in all our interests that festivals get better and better and as far as we are concerned we can take more money.
    I wish I knew how that might happen but it seems wag are content with their efforts, which is proof they don’t earn part of their living working at festivals, if they did they’d have taken your ideas on board many yeas ago. Pity that hasn’t happened and it shows wag in a poor light.
    Have you given up on the new chap K?

  4. local foodie

    April 9, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Why do you have to keep asking questions? Why is this info looking like it is buried deeply somewhere?
    You and the team are battling on your own and this department ignores the problems we carry on facing.
    Why can’t changes be made?
    I’d like to know how much these festivals got docked, but it will not be enough. It’s more like theft if they’ve ignored criteria.
    Bet it was you that prompted wag to ask about 75% Welsh stands, but it should have been them checking on that before payment’s were made, it not up to you to rattle wag into action.
    Festivals need better guidelines and have to be told they must obey them. Welsh festivals for Welsh producers and it you don’t want to do that – don’t apply for funding.