SBC grants continue for Borders festivals

Coldstream Civic Week receives funding of �3,300 a year from SBC and has a strong level of reserves.
Coldstream Civic Week receives funding of �3,300 a year from SBC and has a strong level of reserves.

Local festivals across the Borders will continue to get an annual grant from Scottish Borders Council even though some have as much as £137,000 in reserves.

The list of 28 has been increased to 29 with the addition of Burnfoot Carnival and between them they will receive £85,000 of SBC funding for the next three years.

When SBC councillors at this week’s executive approved the grant spending for the three years they were told: “It would appear that all festival committees are operating within the confines of their budgets without the need for increased financial assistance from the council.”

The report to councillors indicated that 16 festivals have very low reserves - less than 50% of one year’s typical income - while nine have “free reserves which are significantly high in relation to both annual income and to the grant awarded”.

“This leads to the assumption that the grant being allocated to those local festivals may be contributing to reserve levels year on year and is not actually required for the purpose provided. However, it is not known why these festival committees are operating with high reserves (risk assessed as needing to hold higher reserves or saving towards a future significant development).”

Hawick Common Riding tops the list with free reserves of £137,353 and along with Galashiels Braw Lads festival gets the biggest annual grant of £9,300 (Galashiels has reserves of £36,308).

In Berwickshire the Presenting Coldstream Committee has reserves of £27,736: Eyemouth Herring Queen with £22,931; Greenlaw Festival £15,613; Gordon Civic Week £8,976; Coldingham Gala with £8,958; Burnmouth Village Hall Committee £3,129; Chirnside Civic Week £1,756; and Duns Summer Festival £1,304. Cockburnspath did not claim for 2014/15 but previous reserves were £2,460.

The level of grant the 29 festivals receives depends on the population size and whether or not it includes horse cavalcades which significantly increase insurance costs for organisers.

There are nine groups receiving grants from £9,300 to £150: Duns and Coldstream receive a grant of £3,300; Eyemouth and Chirnside a £2,750 grant; Greenlaw and Coldingham £500; Cockburnspath and Gordon £375; and Burnmouth £210.

The report to councillors concludes: “It would appear that the current system is fair and the level of grants awarded has helped to support the current sound financial position for the local festival concerned.

“Although some festivals do not appear to have a financial need for a grant, based on annual accounts only, it is recommended the schemes continues until 2017/18.”