BOWFest cancelled due to funding shortfall

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It has become a highlight of the Argyll music scene, but this year’s Best of the West Festival will not go ahead.

The blame is being placed at the door of Argyll and Bute Council and other unnamed potential funders for failing to support the event.

The local authority, however, claims it was never a primary funder of the event.

BOWFest usually takes place at Inveraray Castle each year in September and has been running since 2011.

Showcasing west coast talent, including musicians, artists, food and drink producers, and craftspeople, it has attracted 30,000 visitors in its eight years.

One of the event’s prime movers has been Eleanor, Duchess of Argyll. The Duchess confirmed the news this week following the withdrawal of investment, saying: ‘The reality is that we receive no government support and Argyll and Bute Council has withdrawn its financial assistance.

‘Funding available from some local community sources has also been consistently denied despite the proven local interest and economic benefits.

‘This local economic boost was delivered at the direct cost and risk to Argyll Estates. The festival was never a profit-making event and all returns, if any, were ploughed back in to the festival pot for the following year.

‘Many individuals put substantial efforts into making it a great event for the past eight years and the festival is indebted to all the supporters and sponsors, old and new, who helped make the Best of the West happen.

‘I wish all festivals and events in Argyll all the best for 2019 and onwards; I know they do a fantastic job in promoting the area and look forward to attending and enjoying some of them with my family.

‘I know many people, including our supporters, employees, local businesses and those who planned to attend this year will be greatly disappointed, but it is best to let everyone know now.’

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said the only money it has contributed towards the festival was £2,500 to sponsor a craft tent and around £1,000 to pay for a drinks reception.

The spokesperson added: ‘We are disappointed that Best of the West will not go ahead this year.

‘We provide funding where possible for events, however it should be noted that our contribution to this festival has been low level and on an ad-hoc basis, rather than as a key partner.

‘Given ongoing cuts to our budgets, expectations of councils have to be realistic and events have to be commercially sustainable.’

Iain Jurgensen, chairman of the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative,  said: ‘Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative was truly saddened to hear the news that after eight great years the Best of the West Festival is to be cancelled this year.

‘Events and festivals are a key driver for showcasing Argyll and the Isles and are very successful in driving additional visitors.

‘Best of the West was an excellent showcase of our music, food, drink, arts, crafts and activities and had greater impact by being outwith the main season.

‘The economic impact festivals and events bring to businesses and communities are significant, as are the ever escalating costs to deliver them.

‘Seeking funding to grow and sustain tourism and events is proving ever more challenging in the current financial climate, but we shall continue to support all those showcasing our world-class products and experiences.’