Posts Tagged ‘Hay Winter festival.’

9610 Food Festivals & Events

04 Aug

You’ve been asking me questions about food festivals and as I’ve not known the answers, because wag food haven’t told me, I’ve had to send another FOI through to get this information. Follows is wag’s answer in full:

1. I require a full list of all festivals that applied for Welsh Government funding for 2015 in the first and second tranches.
2. How much funding did each festival apply for?
3. A full list of festivals that applied for funding and were not successful. Also the amount they requested.
4. The reason why each festival either wasn’t funded or had their original funding request reduced.
5. For second tranche of funding I require answers to questions 1, 2, and 3 above.
1. Details of all Food Festivals supported within the first and second tranche of support have been published on the following page:

2&4 The following have been offered support below that requested including reason for variance, all the others have been offered support at the level requested:
                                                Grant Request         Grant Approved       Reason for variance

Hay Summer Festival –        £2,492                           £1,701                  50% of Eligible costs
Menai Seafood Festival –    £5,000                           £4,634                         “ “
Brecon Food Festival  –       £4,850                           £4,000                        “ “
Hay Winter Festival –          £2,292                           £1,701                          “ “
Abergavenny Food Fest –  £21,850                         £14,350                       “ “
Conwy Feast  –                    £25,000                        £15,255                        “ “

3&4 The following festivals were rejected, including reason for rejection:
Broneirion Festival – £4,919 – did not meet the basic criteria
Greenman Courtyard Event, London – £10,000 – event outside of Wales.
5. Included above.

I’m at a loss with wag food as I simply do not understand why this year they’ve put festivals into two tranches. Last year the maximum grant was £10k, this year the maximum grant is £25k, but why the increase when wag food have been telling me for the last ten years festivals must aim to be self-funding. Guess why I’m puzzled is what wag food mean by ‘aim’! No doubt this all makes civil service sense to wag, but it certainly doesn’t to me. I’m also puzzled as to why festivals think that getting a grant of £1,700 is worth the hassle with the red-tape and paper-work, plus the criteria that wag create.

Wag and wag food say Welsh food and drink is important to Wales but do let me know your views if you have time………


Food Festival Evaluation Report 2013

23 May

Well at long last, the outsiders, that’s us on the outside of the government circle, have been allowed to have access to the words of wisdom, which were put together by CLES/Wavehill who were awarded the tender by wag food at a cost of £27,800 ex vat.

For me, the important question is why was this evaluation report commissioned? Well it isn’t, as you might think, to help, assist and guide the organisers to provide better festivals for our Welsh food and drink producers. Oh no, that would be too obvious. This report is first and foremost for wag to send through to Europe to show that they’ve obediently ticked all Europe’s boxes and have been really good boys – go to the top of the class wag.

I get cross with some producers I’ve spoken to when they dismiss Europe. Although they now sadly accept that wag waste much money whether it be from the UK or from Europe, they realise they’ve no hope of changing wag food. What they tend to forget is that Europe is only returning part of the money that we, as tax payers, send to Europe. The fact that wag have often failed to make good use of the European grants that come into Wales, is hardly Europe’s fault, but there seems little we can do to ensure that Wales gets value for taxpayers’ money.

I’m not convinced that this report is much help to our hard pressed organisers or producers, or me come to that.

When this tender was awarded, I was told that Wavehill were to be working from paperwork sent into wag and telephone interviews between them and the organisers and producers. But scanning this report it appears that Wavehill attended just 7 of the 32 festivals wag funded in 2013. I don’t understand this. At the 7 festivals they attended they spoke to just 542 people. But why attend just 7 and not all 32 festivals that wag supported? How is that fair? However get to Page 14 out of 44 pages* and I’m informed that Wavehill were ‘asked to visit a sample of festivals’. Next question is why did they choose those seven? One problem seems to be that although the funded festivals kicked off in April, wag didn’t award the tender until June 2013. But why didn’t wag do that sooner? Could it be that wag had forgotten that their funded festivals started in April? Or were they just too busy to organise a tender?

Festivals have been funded from wag core funding, but during 2009 – 2012 wag secured funding through the Supply Chain Efficiency Scheme, (SCES) through the Rural Development Plan. Then in 2013, funding was back with wag core funding with wag placing emphasis, on what they’d been telling me for four years or more, that food festivals should be sustainable. Not sure, officially anyway when the sustainable button was hit but it sure wasn’t during 2009-12. But it’s ironic isn’t it that during the SCES years, when for example, Abergavenny went from £37,360, on 2008/9 to £50,435 in 2009/10 to £52,200 in 2010/11 – sustainable, don’t make me laugh. For the record, Abergavenny also got funding for their Christmas Fair too which went from £3,840 in 2008/9 to £5,093.13 for 09/10 and 10/11. I wonder who can clarify for me why, according to wag’s funding list for 2014, Abergavenny Christmas Fair now gets £7,500? How can that be if wag is serious about food festivals being sustainable? It appears to me that wag’s criteria or threat of being sustainable is not applicable to all their funded festivals? Unless my sums are wrong, it would appear wag prefer some festivals than others.

Of the 32 festivals awarded funding; only 30 went ahead. But with continued tightening of some wag budgets, organisers were asked what would happen with they had no wag funding. 35% felt that they’d either cancel their event or scale it down which is a worrying thought.

As in 2012, wag again issued various criteria, max £10k, food must be the core, Welsh food and drink forming at least 75% of total exhibitors and no less than 25 Welsh food and drink producers to be eligible for support and only specific elements eligible for wag funding. I feel there is some greyness of criteria here as in 2014, this has been clarified by saying that food should be the core and that food should 80% of all stands of which 75% of the food stands should be Welsh. Exhibitor lists were taken all food festivals and the report identified an estimated 971 different ‘organisations’ represented at the 30 festivals. No idea what ‘organisations’ means, I thought we were talking about food producers, but perhaps not!

The seven festivals attended by Wavehill were St Fagan’s, Abergavenny, Mold, Narbeth, Newport, Conwy, and Hay Winter festival. Wavehill reported customers spent £20.00 per head, which I find hard to believe. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time, at a lot of festivals and you only need to check the number of bags people are carrying, let alone the cost of the contents to wonder if these ‘average spend’ figures mean anything at all. In my experience, being approached by anyone with a clipboard or iPad is daunting, with many simply wanting to escape ASAP and offer answers they think are required to make their  experience less painful. Whilst we are talking financials, I must say that I do not accept, for similar reasons, the figures producers are supposed to take at each event. This is private, personal information and in nine years I’ve only spoken to one food producer who fills in their evaluation form honestly. Yes just the one. Are the interviewers going to reveal their salary or the salaries of those civil servants working in wag food? Of course they are not. So not impressed at all with the figures, but I’m sure the Minister Alun Davies will relish them and he’ll be able to churn them out at us for the next twelve months.

One point the report did make was the lateness of wag sending out the application forms and the pressure it put the festivals under. Well done for doing that Wavehill and as wag have paid you to feedback to them, maybe, just maybe wag food will take notice, although everyone is aware we’ve been saying that for years. I did note that the report stated that some festivals had newly established businesses of a small scale, and assumed that their presence at the festival assumed a desire for growth. Well not necessarily so, unless you asked if these people were full-time producers, or doing festivals at weekends for cash, and helping the growing black economy. Then on Page 41 I’m told there’s a desire within the Welsh Government for festivals securing funding to promote opportunities for new business to test trade – well this is worthy but it’s difficult for organisers to ascertain from application forms if the trader is professional or as we call them pin-money producers working weekends for cash.    

Trawling through the report, Wavehill had picked up about the north Wales organisers organising a food festival organisers’ conference, but no mention of the fact that up to 2012 wag had done this themselves. But guess that would come under biting the hand that was feeding you wouldn’t it? It was also commented about clash of local festival dates, but this is hardly news, when it’s something we’ve again been saying for years. Why for instance did wag approve funding for Brecon, Neath and Newport all run on the same day in 2013? Brecon has been long established but wag then decide they can fund another two festivals on the same day. What’s wrong in saying if you want funding you must change your date to avoid hampering Brecon? Is it because Brecon is not one of wag’s favoured festivals? It has not been common practice for organisers to work together and help each other, even when they are in the same area, but wag aren’t helping putting local festivals against one another. How is that helping Welsh food, Welsh food producers or festival organisers? Festival co-operation should be focused on because surely some savings could be made in say for example hiring tentage etc.

I was not aware until recently that organisers had to send list of exhibitors for the festival to the wag 14 days prior to their event. But if that’s the case, why isn’t that list of exhibitors then put up on their websites? That isn’t a problem with all festivals but it is with far too many. But who notices or in fact who cares? Well I do, because if any of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers are attending I want them to get as much publicity as possible. Plus if I’m attending, I too want to know who is going to be there. But this has been happening for years and wag have not sorted it out.

Another part that made me chuckle is that organisers have to send in a post event report and the first on their list is footfall. That question cannot apply to all festivals as some still don’t or can’t charge and entrance fee. Hay and Brecon are held in towns and no way can anyone can say how many attended. Get to Page 33 and this is then mentioned about town festivals – so a little confusing. It’s only the producers who can say a festival is viable for them or not. Plenty of people through does not guarantee they’ll be spending their money. However if organisers have got the people there, it’s down to the producers to sell to them!

What I found totalling annoying was some festival organisers had given quotes, but the quotes were not credited or organisers named.  So I cannot see the point in doing that because unless you happen to visit many Welsh food festivals and know for instance that children’s day on a Friday relates to Narbeth it’s pointless doing that or including it in this report. It’s just not interesting reading for me. If you’re getting quotes, name the people or don’t bother.

I’m unaware if all or any of wag’s 30 funded food festivals had an individual report sent to them, stating how it was felt their festival could progress. But in my view this is what it is all about. What’s the point if this has not happened? Oops sorry of course, I’ve forgotten, wag food needs to tick boxes more than helped festivals improve………………………

Please do read this report yourself and let me know how you feel about it.

* This report would not be so long and off-putting for us busy people to trawl through if so much information was not repeated and repeated and repeated ……………….