Funding of €20,000 has been allocated to the Kilkenny Arts Festival, but the resuscitated Fringe festival will have to wait and see if a separate pot of money can be secured for it.
At a recent meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council, Cathaoirleach Paul Cuddihy made a plea for €1,000 of the €20,000 to be allocated to the Fringe instead.
“I really feel that many artists on the Fringe feel neglected or passed over,” he said.
“But we have people on the fringe who have gone on to great success. I would like to amend this to €19,000 for the Kilkenny Arts Festival, €1,000 for the Fringe.
“The purpose is to encourage these artists, some of whom are only starting out. I hope the members agree,” he said.
However, Town Clerk Brian Tyrrell advised against the amendment.
“Could we leave this package as suggested?” he asked.
“We have deferred the Arts grants to June, and there is room to enhance that.”
Cllr Cuddihy, who last year helped to revive the Fringe awards, said he did not want to see a scenario where another small project would then lose out as a result of a funding transfer.
“The last I heard, the Arts Festival got a block grant of €350,000,” he said.
“It is better to take a small slice from a big cake than a big slice from a small cake.”
Mayor David Fitzgerald, who chaired the meeting, said that the other existing projects would not be affected or see their funding reduced as a result. The council voted to give the €20,000 to the Arts Festival.
Borough councillors also called for an increased level of cooperation between the various festival groups, to pool resources and cut costs.
“I would continue to call for further collaborative efforts from all of the festivals to share resources,” said Green Party Councillor Malcolm Noonan.
“I think it is incumbent on all groups to share resources such as a box office.”
Councillor Sean O’ hArgain agreed.
“It is ludicrous that six weeks before every festival, a new building is opened as a box office,” he said.
The Labour councillor also said that the the first ever visit of the Globe Theatre to the city - scheduled for this August, would be one of the most important moments in the history of the Kilkenny Arts Festival. He said the funding allocation was an example of the council’s commitment to the Kilkenny as a festival location.
“One of the major reasons I live in this city is because of the many festivals,” said Cllr Sean O’ hArgain.
“This city has become a festival city and we need to ensure it continues to develop in that regard.”
Councillor Martin Brett (FG) suggested that the Watergate be used as a central box office for some festival groups.
“I would encourage the festivals to use the same headquarters and databases to bring down costs,” he said.
“These festivals are the lifeblood of the city and we are the envy of every other city and county. I think there is great merit in the Watergate acting as a box office for all.”