Drama – but no dosh for Fringe from City Council

In happier times; Michelle Alm Engvall, Front of House team, Kari Johnson, Comedy Coordinator and Rae Bennett, Festival Administrator, at the opening of the Galway Fringe Festival in July.
In happier times; Michelle Alm Engvall, Front of House team, Kari Johnson, Comedy Coordinator and Rae Bennett, Festival Administrator, at the opening of the Galway Fringe Festival in July.

Arts Week with Dara Bradley

Galway Fringe, a boutique multidisciplinary arts festival that runs parallel to the city’s flagship international arts festival, received no State funding for this year’s event.  Galway City Council’s allocation to Fringe, which puts particular focus on showcasing local artists’ work, has not yet been paid.

The local authority has withheld the funding, organisers claim, despite the City Council benefitting by association with the eclectic festival.

Organisers claim the lack of support is jeopardising Galway Fringe, and it may be discontinued, sending the ‘wrong signals’ to the arts and culture sectors ahead of 2020, when the city is designated European Capital of Culture.

The Local Authority in the past two years has slashed the amount it has granted the Fringe, which gives local talent a platform. In 2015, it was allocated €4,200. That was reduced to €2,800 in 2016 – a cut of 33%.

This year, Fringe was told its funding would be just €1,000, representing a further cut of 64%; and a total cut of three-quarters over the past two years.

The Festival was informed of the Council’s decision to grant €1,000 by way of letter. The funding hasn’t yet been received, however, and organisers have been told it has been “withheld”.

This is despite the City Council benefiting from Fringe: its logo was on the festival programme and advertisements, which listed the City Council as a main partner.

The city’s Deputy Mayor, Mike Cubbard, officially launched Galway Fringe, and James Harrold, the city’s Arts Officer, officiated at a launch of a Fringe event in McCambridge’s.

“We’re just trying to keep the Fringe going for 2020,” said a spokesperson for the event.

“But we received no State support this year, for an event that attracted audiences of 10,000 and which is a real boost to the city. We had 500 participants this year, and it is run on a voluntary basis. We are bigger than Dublin Fringe and are connected to fringe festivals all over the World including Edinburgh. The City Council has benefited from its association with Galway Fringe and yet it hasn’t given us the funding it said it would”.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.