Ilkley Literature Festival funding saved

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ORGANISERS OF the largest literature festival in the north of England have welcomed a u-turn by Bradford Council on its funding.

The Ilkley Literature Festival, launched in 1973, had been facing a 100 per cent cut in its annual funding from Bradford Council - which amounted to £11,178 last year.

But the local authority has withdrawn its proposal to axe its contribution - which had sparked a chorus of opposition.

Ilkley Literature Festival’s director Rachel Feldberg said: ‘We have had fantastic support from people right across the board and we’d like to thank everyone who took the time to come forward and make their views known. It has been heartening to be reminded how important literature is to people and how much the festival means to Bradford district.

“Bradford has shown us a fine example of democracy in action and we’ll be getting our heads down now to carry on with our preparations to give the district the exciting festival it deserves.”

The event brings thousands of people to Ilkley each October with more than 150 overnight stays in local hotels.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s executive member for employment, skills and culture, said: “The benefits of Ilkley Literature Festival, were never in doubt. The council has always recognised the festival’s economic impact, its promotion of literacy and the fact that council support helps it to attract significant Arts Council funding.

“However the proposal was part of a package of savings on festivals needed to help find £41m next year because of Government spending cuts, increasing costs and rising demand for services. We received a large number of representations in response from people across the district and elsewhere in the country. In the light of these representations and the clear benefits that the festival brings the decision was taken to withdraw the proposal to remove the council’s contribution to its funding.”

Organisers feared a funding cut would lead to a rise in ticket prices, signal the end of the festival’s workshops in inner city schools and threaten future support from Arts Council England, the event’s main funder.