Council cash for Argyll festivals

Team Scotland, winners of the Cowal International Heavy Athletics Trophy.

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Cowal Highland Gathering is to receive a £30,000 grant from Argyll and Bute Council as it prepares to take place in person for the first time in three years.

The event, which takes place at Dunoon Stadium in August, had to take place virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But preparations are being made for the 2022 event to take place from August 25-27, and it is the only event recommended to receive over £15,000 from round four of the council’s strategic events and festivals (SEF) fund.

The Mull Rally has been recommended to receive £15,000, Mull of Kintyre Music and Arts Festival is earmarked for £11,000 and the Tiree Wave Classic is in line for £10,000.

Seven other events across Argyll and Bute are recommended to receive smaller grants, but two – the Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championship and the Seil Scarecrow Festival – have been unsuccessful.

Councillors were due to be asked to approve the recommended grant awards at the virtual meeting of the authority’s policy and resources committee on Thursday February 17.

Executive director Kirsty Flanagan said: ‘The events sector contributes significantly to economies across Argyll and Bute and is a key part of the economic recovery plan.

‘Its importance can be demonstrated in the year prior to Covid for which events part funded through SEF had an estimated economic impact of £7.5million.

‘The sector continues to be fragile and is recognised as such by Scottish Government measures to support the sector.

‘It is thought the underspend in budget for SEF round four is reflective of the ongoing impact of Covid and therefore there is a continued need to support the recovery of the sector.

‘For this reason, a further call for applications in this financial year is proposed and any resultant underspend earmarked for future rounds.’

The total budget available for 2022/23 is more than £150,000. The surplus for future rounds is thought to be £55,000, although this will not be fully clarified until events have taken place.

Touted to receive £5,000 grant awards are Jura Music Festival, the Gathering of Cowal Clans and Helensburgh Winter Festival.

The Highlands and Islands Music and Dance Festival is earmarked for £4,700, West Highland Yachting Week for £3,600 and Inveraray Highland Games for £3,000.

Tarbert Seafood Festival has also been recommended for £3,000 despite being £800 over the 20 per cent criteria.

The report says it is felt this ‘does not prejudice the other applications’ and the funding is available.

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Caption: Team Scotland, winners of the Cowal International Heavy Athletics Trophy.