The Laugharne Weekend needs your help.
The Arts Council of Wales has just dropped the bombshell that it will not be providing funding for the much-loved literary and music festival due to take place in March 2020.
Many of you will already know the Laugharne Weekend - a deliberately small literary and arts festival that takes place each spring in the township of Laugharne in West Wales (famously the place Dylan Thomas lived and set Under Milk Wood - 'a legendary lazy little black magical bedlam by the sea'). The festival is completed embedded in the township. We use the village hall, the chapel, and the pubs for our venues. There is no VIP area - artists and guest all mingle together for a weekend of magical bedlam.
Over the years we've had around 500 different artists appear. They range from Patti Smith to Charlotte Church, Robert Wyatt to Michael Sheen. Novelists from Irvine Welsh to Eleanor Catton. Poets from Carol Ann Duffy to Linton Kwesi Johnson. Folksingers from Eliza Carthy to Alasdair Roberts. Comedians from Alexei Sayle to Josie Long. We've had a roll-call of Welsh musical talent from Cate Le Bon to Meic Stephens. And then there's Keith Allen's cabaret nights - surely the only place you're likely to see John Cooper Clarke singing The Ramones or the cartoonist Martin Rowson singing the Internationale. Find out more on our website
. There's a lovely piece about the festival written by Tracey Thorn here
Here's why we need your help: Every year since we first started the festival in 2007 we have received an annual grant from the Arts Council of Wales (ACW), lately at a level of £20,000 per year. That's a significant contribution to an overall budget of around £70,000. This funding has been essential to the festival, and has helped us to make it the unique,culturally rich and beautifully eccentric weekend that it is.
We cap weekend tickets at 500 each year because we want to make sure that everyone can get into the venues and to ensure the Laugharne Weekend feels like a community, not just a festival. That does put a cap on the income we can generate from tickets sales alone. Hence our dependence on the Arts Council.
As always, we've been busy organising next year's festival, due to take place on March 27-29. We've booked acts and venues and accommodation. We've put tickets on sale and sold most of them already. And we've done this on the reasonable assumption that we would get our regular funding. But now the ACW have suddenly announced they won't be giving us any funding.* To make matters worse, they had reached this decision on November 25, but only let us know by email this Wednesday, December 18. This has left us right up against Xmas/New Year and without enough time to go to any other funding bodies. Without this money, the festival is in jeopardy.
And so we are turning to you. If you would like to help the festival go ahead next year, please donate whatever you can. Every little really does help. The Laugharne Weekend is special and we desperately want to keep it going.*The Funding Decision
So why have they cut our funding? Frustratingly it’s not because they have anything against the festival per se, but because we allegedly broke their regulations by putting tickets on sale before we had the funding confirmed.
We applied to the ACW in the summer for their August funding round - but they then told us they were postponing it by three months, meaning we wouldn't get a verdict till late December. We absolutely have to get tickets on sale by November, in order for the festival to be viable (festival-goers need to have time to book accommodation etc). We've had to put tickets on sale prior to the ACW verdict several times before, and there has never previously been a problem. Common sense has prevailed. Until now.
There is no way of appealing this unjust verdict, unfortunately. On the upside, we are assured that the door is still open to reapply for Arts Council funding for the 2021 festival, so this appeal is a one-off.Who, Why and What
This fundraiser is run by John Williams, Co-director of the Laugharne Weekend. All monies raised will be paid directly into the Laugharne Weekend bank account and used entirely to fund next year's festival (27-29 March 2020).